New study suggests yoga for stroke survivors

A new study has revealed that one of the best ways of helping to improve the balance of a stroke survivor is through yoga. Researchers discovered that group yoga can improve the balance of those survivors who are no longer receiving rehabilitative care. Scientists, in a pilot study, tested the possible benefits of yoga amongst those who had suffered chronic strokes more than 6 months previously.

Doctor Arlene Schmid, the lead researcher and research scientist into rehabilitation at the Indiana University has said that those who have suffered chronic strokes, taking part in a group yoga session is not only cost effective, but also seems to improve both balance and motor functionality.

47 participants took part in the study, with around 75% being men, and they were split into groups. Some attended group yoga twice a week for 8 weeks, a twice weekly yoga plus group along with a relaxation recording they listened to 3 times a week, and the last group received no rehabilitation. The yoga classes were taught by registered yoga therapists, and included modified postures, meditation and relaxation, and grew more challenging each class.

Compared with those who received the usual care, the patients who had taken part in the yoga and yoga plus classes showed a significant improvement in their balance. The researchers have said that balance problems are the longest reaching issues that stroke sufferers have to deal with, and are linked to a greater degree of disability and also increase the risk of falling.

The stroke survivors who took part in the yoga groups showed greatly improved scores for both quality of life and independence, as well as being a lot less afraid of falling. Dr Schmid said that even those who have suffered chronic strokes and remain disabled, the natural recovery process and rehabilitation therapy usually ends after 6 months, and it is clear from this study that the next step should be yoga.