Problems with Coordination After Brain Injury

Question: 

I was in a coma for three months and my brain was injured on the right side, which affects the left side of my body. I am having difficulty walking because my left side wants to do its own thing. Anything I can be doing to get this under control? I just want to walk "normally" again.

Answer: 

Discoordination of the left side of your body is common after an injury to the right side of your brain. Even if you get good return of strength back on the left side side, coordination may still be a problem. Problems with coordination can be due to changes in strength, sensation, or reflexes. You may see this in more everyday occurrences like stubbing your toe when walking or during more stressful activities like sports that involve running and jumping. Overall, these problems with coordination are likely to be worse when you are tired.

Physical therapy should be working on this coordination to improve your walking and balance and the exercise program should to be tailored to your specific needs. Your PT should closely evaluate your strength, sensation, and reflexes. Symptoms tend to be worse when you are tired or under stress. Even being in very cold or warm temperatures can worsen your coordination.

The best way to improve coordination is by practicing regularly. Too often patients only do their coordination exercises in physical therapy. These exercises need to be done about five times per week, sometimes more than one time per day to get the full effect. As always — practice, practice, practice and you should hopefully see progress. Recovery takes time — but you should see gradual improvement over six months. Maintaining those exercises long term is often needed to maintain the gains made in therapy.

 

Posted on BrainLine February 4, 2010

Brian Greenwald

Dr. Brian Greenwald is medical director of Center for Head Injuries and the associate medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Comments

Having same problem with my right side for almost 3 yrs now since the gunshot wound to my right side and it did pretty bad damage to my left! I was in hospital for almost 3 months after that I went for the stem cell treatment it helped me but not much. I would do it more often bit it's just out of my budget! I'm also willing to try oxygen therapy soon! I did try all kinds of medications and they don't work except for my pain medication. I have very bad muscle spasm and muscle relaxants don't work they only make me sleep! Oxygen, physical therapy and stem cell therapies do work! I wish it all could be covered by Medicare though!

After traumatic brain injury I had trouble with balance. I had BPPV. Your PT should know about this and be able to refer you for testing to see if that could be the problem. Usually it affects one side but, for me, it was both.

Thanks for all this information. I had four head injuries and the last one left me with a big balance problem, lots of falls and walking into things, (you can't imagine how many times I have done that and my toes are slightly numb on one side) though the doctors deny it is anything to do with my ears, I often walk as if I look drunk. The physio they sent was rubbish and said she doesn't have a clue, so I've decided to get the help elsewhere and this is one of the first places I found. I had a slight problem with my speech in the first year and was able to correct it by reading poetry out loud slowly to myself. I went swimming for the first time in years last week and I was fine till I got out of the pool then I was worse for two days, then better then much worse. The optician said my pupils have improved, they were reacting slowly last year and this affects the spacial dimension. So thank you as it all helps in my research into how to help myself be more steady on my feet. I wish you all good results and great recovery

I have the same issues. A walking stick helped. By making my physical strength stronger then my weakness helped. I went to balance classes for senior citizens. Also a swimming pool with steps. I would practice just walking around the pool for an hour 3 times a week. Let the life guard know to keep and close eye on you. Walking on cement in straight lines and now I have just progressed to walking in grass. It's funny then hell. I have been asked a few times if I was drunk. But today I don't use a wheel chair or walker. Most importantly I can catch my balance.dont ever look at it as work but a fun game to see how long you can balance. Lol

This is identical to my tbi troubles. However, it is just my left leg when it comes to walking. My right hand doesn't grip as well write. I am right handed and I scribble my signature and can't do finer activities like tieing a shoe or this a football. Had 7 skull fractures on my left side and the impact caused a subdermal hematoma on my right. Was in the hospital 3 months. Still do therapy. This happened 7-19-13. Will it get better and should I expect it to be a long road?

I didn't really have access to physical therapy, I had to kind of improvise. I practiced for hours on end near something I could grab on to. Every day. I got angry, and used that anger to focus on getting myself better. (You would be surprised how good that actually works). Later on as I started getting better, I found exercises on the internet, and then later on bought a BOSU balance trainer. I also started going for walks everyday with my ipod. Just walking by myself to music and thinking. It's very relaxing.

It really is all a matter of hard,hard work. It takes a long time and will require a lit of willpower and self determination, the more practice and training the better, what you believe you can do you will do. Our thoughts manifest new pathways in the brain to allow our limbs to do as we say, it's very frustrating but all the hard work will pay off.. The most important thing is to keep working at it.

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