A review of standing balance recovery from stroke

Gait Posture. 2005 Nov;22(3):267-81. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2004.10.002. Epub 2004 Dec 7.


Recently, interest in the mechanisms underlying balance recovery following stroke has grown, because insight into these mechanisms is necessary to develop effective rehabilitation strategies for different types of stroke. Studies dealing with the recovery of standing balance from stroke are, however, limited to rehabilitation inpatients with a unilateral supratentorial brain infarction or haemorrhage. In most of these patients, stance stability improves in both planes as well as the ability to compensate for external and internal body perturbations and to control posture voluntarily. Although there is evidence of true physiological recovery of paretic leg muscle functions in postural control, particularly during the first three months post-stroke, substantial balance recovery also occurs in patients when there are no clear signs of improved support functions or equilibrium reactions exerted through the paretic leg. This type of recovery probably takes much longer than 3 months. Apparently, mechanisms other than the restoration of paretic leg muscle functions may determine the standing balance recovery in patients after severe stroke. No information is available about the role of stepping responses as an alternative to equilibrium reactions for restoring the ability to maintain upright stance after stroke. The finding that brain lesions involving particularly the parieto-temporal junction are associated with poor postural control, suggests that normal sensory integration is critical for balance recovery. Despite a considerable number of intervention studies, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about the best approach to facilitate the natural recovery of standing balance following stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Paresis / etiology
  • Paresis / physiopathology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postural Balance*
  • Posture*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Weight-Bearing