Group yoga can improve motor function and balance in stroke survivors, even if they don’t begin yoga until six months or more after the stroke, according to “Post-Stroke Balance Improves With Yoga: A Pilot Study,” published July 26 in the journal Stroke.
Forty-seven older adults, three-quarters of whom were male, participated in the study. They were divided into three sections: One section engaged in twice-weekly group yoga for eight weeks; the second section met twice weekly for group yoga and was provided with a relaxation audio recording to use at least three times weekly; and the third section received usual medical care that included no rehabilitation.
The yoga classes, taught by a registered yoga therapist, included modified yoga postures, relaxation and meditation. Classes grew more challenging each week.
“For patients, like those in our study, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six or, less frequently, 12 months,” said 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. “We found that yoga exercises significantly extended rehabilitation beyond the first year after stroke.”