Yoga May Help Stroke Survivors Improve Balance: Study
Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years and is considered therapeutic. Yoga helps in relieving stress and boosts confidence. Apart from these there are other health benefits one can grab from doing yoga regularly.
According to the latest research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, Group yoga can improve balance in stroke survivors who no longer receive rehabilitative care. There was also an improvement in the mindset of patients about their disability.
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The researchers tested the potential benefits of yoga among chronic stroke survivors, who had suffered with strokes 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, lead researcher and a rehabilitation research scientist at Roudebush Veterans Administration-Medical Center and Indiana University, Department of Occupational Therapy in Indianapolis.
The study was conducted on 47 participants and had about three quarter male veterans which were divided into three groups. The oldest patient in the study was in his 90s. The researchers made sure that the participants had to be able to stand on their own at the study's onset which was: 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; and a usual medical care group that did no rehabilitation.
The yoga classes included modified yoga postures, relaxation, and meditation. Classes grew more challenging each week. They were compared with patients in the usual-care group, those who completed yoga or yoga-plus significantly, improved their balance.
According to the researchers, "Balance problems frequently last long after a person suffers a stroke, and are related to greater disability and a higher risk of falls." They also noticed that 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. "Improvements after the six-month window can take longer to occur. 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."
"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."
The researchers were able to draw a limited conclusion from study as the number of participants in the study was small.