Sunday, July 29, 2012
Yoga may help stroke survivors improve their balance, according to a new study. Researchers found group yoga can improve balance in stroke survivors who no longer receive rehabilitative care. In a pilot study, scientists tested the potential benefits of yoga among chronic stroke survivors - those whose stroke occurred more than six months earlier. Lead researcher Doctor Arlene Schmid, a rehabilitation research scientist at Indiana University in the United States, said: 'For people with chronic stroke, something like yoga in a group environment is cost effective and appears to improve motor function and balance.' 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; and 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. The researchers said balance problems frequently last long after a person suffers a stroke, and are related to greater disability and a higher risk of falls. Survivors in the yoga groups also had improved scores for independence and quality of life and were less afraid of falling. Dr Schmid said: 'For chronic stroke patients, even if they remain disabled, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six months, or maybe a year.'