Stroke Recovery & Exercise: When Physical Therapy Ends, Then What?


On Tuesday, February 4, 2020, Tracy Markley, a fitness specialist, stroke and exercise expert and author, presented “Stroke Recovery & Exercise: When Physical Therapy Ends, Then What?” to the members of Stroke Support Association (SSA) in Long Beach.

Tracy spoke of how and in what order the brain communicates with the limbs and how to use exercise tools such as the balance disc and the Swiss Ball.

Keeping the body’s core strong is extremely important post-stroke. “If the center of your body is strong, the arms and legs have a better chance of coming back after stroke,” she said.

“When you see a toddler learning how to stand, he’s not doing crunches [to strengthen his core],” Tracy said. “Instead, he is doing what comes naturally—standing on his feet and holding onto a table, while he learns how to balance and use his legs.”

Tracy brought in a balance disc to demonstrate how to hold the core steady so as to improve balance. She also brought in various illustrations of muscle systems used in recovery after stroke.

“When you get the center of your body strong, it holds your ribs in place and your shoulders can stack up properly,” Tracy said. Regaining a strong posture, core strength, and good balance are incredibly important post-stroke. So too is building the shoulders back to proper alignment so that the nerves can communicate with the arms more effectively. A strong core, spine, and posture builds pelvic stability, allowing leg function and walking skills to return.

Tracy is the author of five books, including Stroke Recovery: What Now? When Physical Therapy Ends But Your Recovery Continues and The Stroke of an Artist: The Journey of a Fitness Trainer and a Stroke Survivor. She donated a copy of both books to SSA’s lending library. Many thanks go to Tracy for her wonderful, informative presentation. Tracy will be back for a second presentation on July 7.

Stroke Support Association offers separate support groups for stroke survivors and caregivers every Tuesday, from 10:00-11:30 AM, 3759 Orange Ave., Long Beach.

Betsy Hardiman

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