From Medical News Today
In the United States, 5 million individuals are currently living with the consequences of stroke, such as limited mobility, decreased independence in activities in daily life, and reduced participation in society. Now, researchers have found that these patients might benefit from adapted yoga.
Researchers from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and IU Bloomington, enrolled older veterans recovering from stroke to participate in the study in order to determine whether an eight-week adapted yoga program would benefit them.
Study participants had completed their post-stroke occupational and physical therapy prior to the study, but continued to have impairments.
The findings from two new analyses of the study will be presented on Wednesday during the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco.
Following a stroke, it is common for individuals to experience loss of functional strength, flexibility and endurance, said Arlene Schmid, rehabilitation research scientist at the Roudebush VA Medical Center and lead researcher of the VA-Funded study.
Schmid, who is also an assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPIU, explained: “Clinicians need methods to manage and improve these post-stroke physical impairments.”
In the first analysis, “Physical Improvements After Yoga for People With Chronic Stroke”, Schmid set out to determine whether yoga could improve flexibility, functional strength and endurance in stroke patients. She found that yoga significantly improved all these areas.
Schmid explained that the yoga activities might have “improved neuromuscular control, like allowing for strength improvements in affected limbs, sides or areas of disuse.”
In the second analysis “The Effect of Balance Exercise Therapy on Gait Parameters in Individuals With Chronic Stroke”, Tracy Dierks, associate professor of physical therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, focused on how well study participants were able to walk after the program.
Dierks found that study participants showed improved balance and faster gait speeds with longer steps or strides after completing the yoga program. However, although the participants were able to walk at a faster pace, they were unable to sustain this pace for the durations of the six-minute test.
“The gait findings from our study have the potential to greatly impact clinical practice for gait recovery. The yoga intervention was designed to improve balance, not gait; we did not focus on improving gait at all. Yet we saw major improvements in most clinical gait measurements. But one often overlooked deficit remained: the inability to sustain gait speed for endurance.”
According to Schmid, it might be appropriate to include yoga in the in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation people receive after suffering a stroke. This type of class should be taught by a yoga therapist who is also trained in anatomy and physiology and how to work with individuals with disabilities.