Yoga is one of those things where people are often skeptical of its’ benefits. With increased popularity in the Western world, yoga has garnered more interest and research on its’ effects on various medical conditions. Here is an article that was just featured in MedPage Today discussing Yoga’s benefits for Stroke patients:
Yoga Steadies Stroke Victims
A yoga-based rehabilitation workout may help improve balance following stroke, a pilot randomized study found.
At 8 weeks, the yoga group showed significant progress in static and dynamic balance, as assessed by the 14-item Berg Balance Scale (mean score of 40 versus 47,P<0.001), reported Arlene A. Schmid, PhD, OTR, from the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, and colleagues.
In contrast, the controls who underwent usual rehab care had less improvement in balance (mean score of 41 versus 43, P=0.06), according to the study published online inStroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
A score of 46 or less indicates a risk of falling.
An earlier study from researchers at Roudebush found that yoga led to improvements in functional strength, flexibility, and endurance in stroke patients.
Schmid and colleagues noted that the mind–body component of yoga is believed to offer practitioners a more therapeutic benefit than traditional exercise.
“Evidence suggests that the combination of postures, breathing, and meditation are most beneficial when utilized together and are considered to produce different effects than simple exercise,” they wrote.
To test yoga’s impact on balance, the researchers randomly assigned 37 patients to the yoga intervention and 10 to usual care. A total of 29 patients finished the 8-week, twice-a-week yoga intervention.
The yoga included seated, standing, and floor postures. The yoga postures became more challenging with time.
For example, patients began with breathing exercises, bilateral eye movements, finger movements and seated spine extensions. They then progressed to standing with or without support, knee bends while standing, and prolonged lunges. Finally, they undertook supine knee bends to the chest, posterior leg stretches, and supine back extensions.
Baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. The mean age of patients was 63, two-thirds were white, and 80% were men. The mean time since stroke was about 4 years. More people in the yoga group, however, had a fear of falling at baseline compared with controls (60% versus 30%).
Besides the improvement in balance, the 29 patients who completed the 8 weeks of yoga showed more significant improvement towards independence (52% at baseline versus 66%, P<0.001) and had less of a fear of falling (60% versus 43%, P=0.002).
The researchers noted a trend toward significant improvement in self-reported balance efficacy as measured by the Balance Confidence Scale (61 versus 67, P=0.035) and quality of life indicators as measured by the 49-item Stroke-Specific QoL scale (33 versus 35, P=0.037).
Despite the study’s small size, Schmid and colleagues noted the “clinically meaningful” increase of a mean of more than 6 points in the Berg Balance Scale score. “[A]nd those who completed yoga crossed the threshold of balance impairment and fall risk by increasing the average score to greater than 46,” they added.
They said such improvements defy what’s in the literature for older adults and portend the opportunity for even greater improvements among this population.
The study was limited, however, because it was not blinded and was small with a low number of women. It also had some limitations to the assessment of disability and fear of falling.
link to full article on Medpage Today: (free login required – highly recommend subscribing – lots of great articles and info).