Yoga found to be beneficial in post-stroke recovery

It may be beneficial to include yoga in the in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation of stroke patients, suggests recent researches.
A recent study, involving researchers from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Centre at Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and IU Bloomington, exposed older veterans recovering from stroke to yoga.

The study looked into value of adapted yoga for stroke rehabilitation, and found that following an eight-week programme, the participants in the study demonstrated improved balance and flexibility, stronger and faster gait, and improved strength and endurance.

The researchers revealed that with yoga, the patients showed improved neuromuscular control, allowing strength improvement in affected sides, limbs, or areas of disuse.

The men and women had already completed their post-stroke occupational and physical therapy before the study, but continued to have impairments.

“Clinicians need methods to manage and improve these post-stroke physical impairments,” said Schmid, an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUL.

Schmid concludes that it may be appropriate to include yoga in the in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation that people receive, following a stroke.

The study was presented during the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco.

There have been several studies earlier too, which proves the effectiveness of yoga in stroke recovery. A study by Continuum Centre for Health and Healing in New York had suggested that a particular yoga practice helped stroke patients with language impairment (aphasia), and improved their fine motor co-ordination.

Another study by the journal Physical Therapy, suggested that yoga improved the performance of stroke patients suffering from hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body).

Yoga is also considered effective in calming down the negative emotions such as stress, grief and sadness experienced by majority of stroke survivors.

The Yoga Journal suggests that stroke survivors should begin practising yoga poses in a chair initially, to assess their mobility. Several standing poses such as Warrior I and II can be modified using a sturdy folding chair, which the patients can hold on for balance.
However, stroke survivors are advised to avoid inversions and other poses that bring head below the heart.