Disability Physiotherapy Exercises for People With Impairments


For people with disabilities, regular exercise can be difficult and mobility issues can make life challenging at the best of times. Fortunately, there are a wide range of disability physiotherapy exercises available for people with impairments that can increase strength, improve motion and beget greater flexibility. The following list is, of course, not a manual for disability physiotherapy. If you have a disability you should still consult with your local Erskineville physio to discuss what is appropriate for you. The following list of exercises is instead an insight into what is possible when you suffer from impairment.

For each of the following exercises, patients should complete three sets. Repeat each exercise ten times without stopping and then rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Try to leave forty eight hours between each workout to allow your joints and muscles to fully recover. It’s also worth increasing the intensity of these exercises on an incremental basis to ensure you’re building muscle over time.


  • Sit to Stand


This exercise is really useful if you have a weakened lower body and need to increase lower body strength and stability. The exercise is suitable for patients who have some control over their lower body.

Method: Perch your bottom at the front edge of a seat with your feet flat on the floor, behind your knees. Tilt your upper body forward a little and push yourself up using the legs into a fully standing position. Slowly lower yourself back down into the seated position you started in.


  • Seated Tricep Dips


This exercise is designed to strengthen the muscles in your triceps, chest and the front of your shoulders. These muscle groups are particularly important if you need to transfer from a wheelchair. The exercise is suitable for patients who have good upper body strength.

Method: Sitting, place your hands on the armrests of your wheelchair (with brakes on) or another chair. Make sure they are directly underneath your shoulders. Push yourself upwards until your arms are fully extended (not locked), then slowly lower yourself down back into a seated position. Try to let your arms do as much of the work as possible.


  • Seated Knee Raises


Strenghtening the hip flexors (the muscles around your hip) is incredible important when transferring weight, walking and bending over. Some control over the lower body is needed to perform this exercise.

Method: When seated, raise one knee upwards until your foot is several inches off the ground. Lower slowly and repeat the process. Once you’ve completed a set on one side, repeat this on the other leg.


  • Sit and Walk


For patients who need to regain strength to continue walking, this exercise can be ideal. The sit to stand strengthens the legs and then the short walk serves to improve walking muscles.

Method: Place two chairs a few meters apart from each other, but facing one another. Sitting on one of them, perform the sit to stand exercise and then, once standing, walk to the other chair. Turn around, sit down in the second chair, and then repeat, walking to the first chair.


  • Reverse Crunches


To strengthen the abdominal muscles when you don’t have the strength to complete a regular crunch or sit up, perform this exercise until your condition improves. Some control over the abdominal muscles is needed to complete this exercise.

Method: Sit on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Gradually lower your upper body until you are laying flat on the floor, facing the ceiling. Get back into the seated position using any means necessary and repeat the lowering process. Try to roll the spine as you lower yourself into a lying position. Do this by making sure the vertebrae touch the floor one by one.

Again, if you suffer from a disability or impairment, please contact your local Erskineville physio at Erko Physio before attempting exercises at home. Our team of friendly physiotherapists will be able to provide assistance according to your condition and can prescribe specific physiotherapy for disability designed to help you recover muscle strength, improve your range of motion where possible and increase your flexibility. We are open for business 7:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday and 7:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday. Call us today on 02 9557 9272 to schedule your appointment for disability physiotherapy and begin your journey towards greater physical health.