Ask the Expert: Brain Tumours and Mobility

Physical fitness is a vital part of everyone’s well-being and with that comes mobility and balance. Unfortunately, for some individuals living with a brain tumour, the disease can cause a variety of complications that impact the ability to move about easily, affecting the person’s quality of life and possibly their independence.  Brain tumours affect mobility in many ways, by triggering muscle weakness, tremors and numbness.  A brain tumour may also cause motion sickness and vision may be blurry when you turn your head or change direction.

If you find that you are experiencing difficulty with mobility or balance, here are a few tips to help. Remember: If you have any questions about your health, always consult your medical team for assistance or guidance.

10 Tips for Staying on Your Feet

1.       Assess your risk for falling with a health care professional – if you are at risk, take action

2.       Use any walking device or safety equipment recommended to you by your health care team

3.       If safe to do, practice balancing on one foot in the corner of a room with the wall behind you and a chair or counter in front for support–for safety, try this with someone standing in front of you. Goal:  5 to 15 seconds

4.       Practice reaching forward with your right and then left arm while facing the kitchen counter

5.       Practice gripping a ball so that you can more easily hold onto your purse, groceries or laundry

6.       Exercise regularly – walk, swim, bowl, dance, do tai chi, go to an exercise class. Remember to start slowly. Even short walks in the halls of your house or apartment add up

7.       Lift a small weight and swing your arms out if you can do it safely – this will build strong hands and arms

8.       Practice standing up from a chair several times in a row – for safety, try this with someone standing in front of you or while sitting at the kitchen table. Make sure your chair won’t move out from behind you

9.       Use a pedometer to find out how many steps you walk daily. Typical rates are 7,000 to 13,000 steps for active adults, 6,000 to 8,500 for seniors, and 3,500 to 5,500 for those with limited mobility

10.   Have a physiotherapist evaluate your mobility status, falls risk, strength and pain limitations. If you cannot get out to physiotherapy, you may be able have a home care physiotherapist come to your home


Asking your doctor or physiotherapist to perform a fall-risk assessment

The purpose of a fall-risk assessment is to identify an individual’s risk for falling in advance of any potential accidents. The sample assessment below is a helpful tool to bring with you when asking a member of your health care team to measure your mobility and balance.


Can you stand on one foot?

Normal:  10 seconds, without using your hands


Can you reach forward on two feet?

Normal:  10 inches forward without using your hands


Can you stand up from a chair?

Age 60-80:  12 seconds – 5 reps

Age 80-89:  15 seconds – 5 reps


Is your cane or walker the right height?

The top of your cane should reach your watch strap when you stand up straight with your arm down.


Do you need a cane or two-wheeled or four-wheeled walker?   

A physiotherapy test called the Berg Balance test can tell us which aid is likely the safest option for you.


Do you put your walker brakes on?

Do you use them every time you stop?


This article was provided by PhysioCare At Home, a Nova Scotian company committed to providing quality physiotherapy services in the comfort and privacy of clients’ own homes. The author, Barbara Adams, is PhysioCare At Home’s clinical director and is also an experienced physiotherapist. Thank you for sharing your expertise, Barbara.


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