One of the unfortunate affects of stroke is the impairment of balance and motor skills. Stroke sufferers will often develop a fear of falling which can significantly impact their quality of life. A new study published in the journal Stroke set out to explore how modified yoga might improve balance and other post-stroke problems.
Forty-seven people participated in this study, most of whom were men. They were divide into 3 groups. The first group did group yoga twice per week for eight weeks. The second group did the same, but were provided a relaxation audio recording to use 3 times per week. The last group received the typical treatment with no rehabilitation. The classes were performed by a registered yoga instructor. According to the study abstract, “balance was assessed with the Berg Balance Scale, balance self-efficacy with the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, FoF with a dichotomous yes/no question, and quality of life with the Stroke Specific Quality of Life scale.”
The results of the study were very encouraging. The participants who participated in the yoga therapy showed significant improvement in their balance. Not only that, their confidence level increased and they were willing to take more risks. According to an Indiana University School of Medicine press release, Regenstrief Institute investigator, Arlene Schmid, Ph.D., OTR, a rehabilitation research scientist with the Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice at the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center and assistant professor of occupational therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who led the study said, “For patients, like those in our study, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six or, less frequently, 12 months…We found that yoga exercises significantly extended rehabilitation beyond the first year after stroke.”
The really good news is that even for those who participated in this study 6 months or more after their stroke, they still received positive benefits from the yoga sessions. Due to the positive nature of this study, further study in yoga-based rehabilitation is warranted.