Empowering Recovery: Home Physiotherapy Exercises for Paralysis

Content is medically reviewed by:

Dr. Shakti Singh

Physiotherapy Exercises for Paralysis

Paralysis, whether caused by injury or neurological conditions, presents significant challenges. However, hope and progress can be found through physiotherapy exercises for paralysis that can be performed at home. These exercises, when pursued with determination and consistency, contribute to regaining strength and improving overall quality of life for individuals with paralysis.

Range of Motion Exercises for Paralysis

Maintaining joint flexibility is crucial for individuals with paralysis. Simple range of motion exercises can be incorporated into daily routines. These exercises involve gently moving each joint through its full range of motion. For example, swinging the arms and legs in a controlled manner, bending and extending the knees, and rotating the wrists can prevent stiffness and contractures as well as initiate voluntary control.(1)

Strengthening Exercises for Paralysis

Strengthening the muscles that are still functional is essential. Even if the range of motion is limited, these exercises can help slow muscle atrophy and improve overall strength and posture. In cases with extreme muscle weakness, strengthening exercises can be done in assistance with electrical stimulation. Some effective exercises include leg lifts, seated squats, pelvic bridging which can be further progressed towards resistance band exercises. It’s important to follow a customized exercise plan designed in consultation with a physiotherapist.(2)

Seated Balance and Stability Exercises for Paralysis

Maintaining balance and stability while sitting is crucial for daily life. Individuals with paralysis can work on seated balance exercises, such as sitting upright without support, shifting weight from side to side, and reaching for objects placed at various distances. This once achieved by the patient can then be switched towards more difficult tasks including balance training on a Swiss ball which can be later on substituted with locomotor training (3) (4)

Passive Stretching for Paralysis

In cases of severe paralysis, caregivers can assist with passive stretching exercises. Gently moving the limbs through their full range of motion, even when the individual cannot do it themselves, helps prevent contractures and maintain joint health.(1)

Breathing Exercises for Paralysis

Deep breathing exercises are essential to maintain lung health and prevent respiratory complications. Diaphragmatic breathing, chest expansion exercises, and cough-assist techniques help maintain good lung function. In cases of chest congestion, gentle vibrations and forced expiratory techniques are extremely beneficial.

Assistive Devices for Paralysis

While not exercises in the traditional sense, learning to use assistive devices like wheelchairs and mobility aids effectively is an essential part of home physiotherapy for paralysis. A physiotherapist can provide guidance on using these devices safely and efficiently. (5)

It’s important to remember that progress in physiotherapy for paralysis can be slow and challenging, but small gains can lead to significant improvements over time. Before beginning any home physiotherapy regimen, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified physiotherapist or healthcare professional who can tailor a program to individual needs and provide ongoing support. With commitment and the right guidance, individuals with paralysis can work towards regaining their independence and improving their overall well-being from the comfort of their homes.


1.   Billington ZJ, Henke AM, Gater DR Jr. Spasticity Management after Spinal Cord Injury: The Here and Now. J Pers Med. 2022 May 17;12(5):808. doi: 10.3390/jpm12050808. PMID: 35629229; PMCID: PMC9144471.

2.   Knutson JS, Fu MJ, Sheffler LR, Chae J. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for Motor Restoration in Hemiplegia. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2015 Nov;26(4):729-45. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2015.06.002. Epub 2015 Aug 14. PMID: 26522909; PMCID: PMC4630679.

3.   Harkema SJ, Hillyer J, Schmidt-Read M, Ardolino E, Sisto SA, Behrman AL. Locomotor training: as a treatment of spinal cord injury and in the progression of neurologic rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Sep;93(9):1588-97. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.04.032. PMID: 22920456.

4.   Gulzar A, Waris M; Qurat Ul Ain. Effects of 8 weeks functional training programme on posture control and functional mobility in spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. J Pak Med Assoc. 2022 Jul;72(7):1278-1281. doi: 10.47391/JPMA.3476. PMID: 36156543.

5.   Wäckerlin S, Gemperli A, Sigrist-Nix D, Arnet U. Need and availability of assistive devices to compensate for impaired hand function of individuals with tetraplegia. J Spinal Cord Med. 2020 Jan;43(1):77-87. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2018.1479054. Epub 2018 Jun 4. PMID: 29863967; PMCID: PMC7006670.

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