VIDEO: Sleeping on Your Side With Paralysis

Clinical Expertise

May 26, 2021

Medical Reviewer: Amy Jo Rohe, MSOT, OTR/L, CBIS
Last Updated: January 13, 2023

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Amy Jo Roche, and I’m an occupational therapist at Brooks Rehabilitation and an outpatient clinic at Mandarin. And I specialize in neurologic rehabilitation.

Paralysis in the arm, also known as hemiparesis, is a common effect of a stroke or brain injury. In this series, I’m going to share strategies and important information about managing an arm that has been affected by a stroke or brain injury.

Sleep is important for your recovery after a stroke or brain injury. Today, I’m going to show you some sleeping positions that help support the weaker side of your body if you have paralysis after a stroke or brain injury.

When sleeping on your side with the side of your body that has paralysis up, support your arm with paralysis on one to two pillows, place a pillow between your knees and ankles to help keep them in midline. When laying on your side with paralysis, position your shoulders slightly forward so that you are laying more on your shoulder blade rather than on the point of your shoulder.

Position your arm on a pillow in front of you and away from your body with your palm facing up towards the ceiling. Place a pillow between your knees and ankles to help keep them in midline.

When laying on either side, you may need to place a pillow behind your back to help prevent you from unintentionally rowing backwards.

If you are unable to roll yourself into different positions on your own, and you are spending a lot of time in bed, it is important that someone periodically helps you reposition yourself in order to avoid bedsores, also known as pressure injuries.

A general recommendation is to be repositioned every two hours. However, your health care team may recommend that you do so more frequently. Be sure to follow the guidelines provided to you by your team. Remember, these are general recommendations.

Everyone is unique.

So talk to your physical or occupational therapist about how you may need to modify your sleeping position for your greatest comfort and safety. In some cases, splints or braces may be necessary to help maintain the proper alignment of your joints.

Your physical or occupational therapists can help determine if these are necessary.

For more healthy living tips, visit our YouTube Playlist.

Medical Reviewer

Amy Jo Rohe, MSOT, OTR/L, CBIS

Occupational Therapist
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