Stroke Survivors Use Yoga to Improve Balance
Published : 2012-08-01
Author : American Heart Association
Synopsis* : Stroke survivors in a yoga group had improved scores for independence and quality of life and were less afraid of falling.
Main DigestYoga may help stroke survivors improve balance - Group yoga can improve balance in stroke survivors who no longer receive rehabilitative care, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Yoga - A Hindu theistic philosophy based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit using a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.
In a small pilot study, researchers tested the potential benefits of yoga among chronic stroke survivors - those whose stroke occurred more than six months earlier.
"For people with chronic stroke, something like yoga in a group environment is cost effective and appears to improve motor function and balance," said Arlene Schmid, Ph.D., O.T.R., lead researcher and a rehabilitation research scientist at Roudebush Veterans Administration-Medical Center and Indiana University, Department of Occupational Therapy in Indianapolis, Ind.
The study's 47 participants, about three-quarters of them male veterans, were divided into three groups:
- twice-weekly group yoga for eight weeks;
- a "yoga-plus" group, which met twice weekly and had a relaxation recording to use at least three times a week;
- a usual medical care group that did no rehabilitation.
The yoga classes, taught by a registered yoga therapist, included modified yoga postures, relaxation, and meditation. Classes grew more challenging each week.
Compared with patients in the usual-care group, those who completed yoga or yoga-plus significantly improved their balance.
Balance problems frequently last long after a person suffers a stroke, and are related to greater disability and a higher risk of falls, researchers said.
Furthermore, survivors in the yoga groups had improved scores for independence and quality of life and were less afraid of falling.
"For chronic stroke patients, even if they remain disabled, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six months, or maybe a year," said Schmid, who is also an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and an investigator at the Regenstrief Institute.
Improvements after the six-month window can take longer to occur, she said, "but we know for a fact that the brain still can change. The problem is the healthcare system is not necessarily willing to pay for that change. The study demonstrated that with some assistance, even chronic stroke patients with significant paralysis on one side can manage to do modified yoga poses."
The oldest patient in the study was in his 90s. All participants had to be able to stand on their own at the study's outset.
Yoga may be more therapeutic than traditional exercise because the combination of postures, breathing and meditation may produce different effects than simple exercise, researchers said.
"However, stroke patients looking for such help might have a hard time finding qualified yoga therapists to work with," Schmid said. "Some occupational and physical therapists are integrating yoga into their practice, even though there's scant evidence at this point to support its effectiveness."
Researchers can draw only limited conclusions from the study because of its small number of participants and lack of diversity. The study also didn't have enough participants to uncover differences between the yoga and control groups. The scientists hope to conduct a larger study soon.
Researchers also noticed improvements in the mindset of patients about their disability. The participants talked about walking through a grocery store instead of using an assistive scooter, being able to take a shower and feeling inspired to visit friends.
"It has to do with the confidence of being more mobile," Schmid said. Although they took time to unfold, "these were very meaningful changes in life for people."
Co-authors are Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Ph.D., C.T.R.S.; Peter A. Altenburger, Ph.D., P.T.; Nancy L. Schalk, R.Y.T.; Tracy A. Dierks, Ph.D; Kristine K. Miller, P.T.; Teresa M. Damush, Ph.D.; Dawn M. Bravata, M.D.; and Linda S. Williams, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The VA Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) funded the research.
You're reading Disabled World. Be sure to check out our homepage for further informative disability news, reviews, disability sports events, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Related Yoga Documents
- 1 - Live Seated Yoga Classes for Seniors and Disabled : Disabled founders of Wavelength VR launch live seated yoga classes for vulnerable people in self-isolation during covid-19.
- 2 - Yoga Found to be Helpful for Lower Back Pain : For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment.
- 3 - Chair Yoga Effective Alternative Treatment for Osteoarthritis : Research study examines effects of chair yoga on pain and physical function in seniors with osteoarthritis.
- 4 - Yoga for Men Announces Yoga for Veterans Program : Yoga for Men (YfM) announces yoga for veterans program and research study to evaluate effects of yoga and mindfulness on posttraumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions.
- 5 - Yoga for Arthritis Symptoms & Mood : Study finds yoga may be safe and effective way to keeping moving for the 20% of adults living with arthritis.
*Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. View our Advertising Policy for further information. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.
Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: American Heart Association. Electronic Publication Date: 2012-08-01. Title: Stroke Survivors Use Yoga to Improve Balance, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/exercise/yoga/improving-balance.php>Stroke Survivors Use Yoga to Improve Balance</a>. Retrieved 2021-05-09, from https://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/exercise/yoga/improving-balance.php - Reference: DW#240-9169.