Yoga improved balance in patients with chronic stroke

Group yoga-based rehabilitation for patients with chronic stroke may improve multiple poststroke variables, such as balance. The practice may be cost-effective and complementary to rehabilitation according to a recent study.

Forty-seven participants with chronic stroke were divided into three practice groups: twice weekly group yoga for 8 weeks; a twice weekly “yoga-plus” group that included a relaxation practice three times a week; and a medical care group that did not have rehabilitation. Yoga classes included modified seated, standing and floor yoga postures, relaxation and meditation.

Researchers assessed balance with the Berg Balance Scale, balance self-efficacy with the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, fear of falling with a dichotomous yes or no question and quality of life with the Stroke Specific Quality of Life scale.

Overall, study results showed no significant differences between control and yoga groups in baseline or follow-up scores. However, researchers found a significant improvement in balance and fear of falling using within-group comparisons with data from the yoga group.

“For people with chronic stroke, something like yoga in a group environment is cost effective and appears to improve motor function and balance,” Arlene Schmid, PhD, OTR, rehabilitation research scientist at Roudebush Veterans Administration-Medical Center and of the department of occupational therapy at Indiana University, said in a press release. “However, stroke patients looking for such help might have a hard time finding qualified yoga therapists to work with. Some occupational and physical therapists are integrating yoga into their practice, even though there’s scant evidence at this point to support its effectiveness.”

For more information:

Schmid AA, Van Puymbroeck M, Altenburger PA, et al. Poststroke balance improves with yoga. Stroke. July 26, 2012. [Epub ahead of print]

Disclosures: The researchers had no relevant financial disclosures.

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