In chronic stroke patients, yoga may help improve balance and prevent falls. A small pilot study showed that group yoga can provide benefits to stroke patients no longer receiving rehabilitation care.
Lead researcher Arlene Schmid said, “For people with chronic stroke, something like yoga in a group environment is cost effective and appears to improve motor function and balance.”
The study included 47 participants who were divided into three groups. The first group completed group yoga twice a week for eight weeks. The second group was a “yoga-plus” group who met twice a week and used relaxation recordings at least three times a week, and the third group received usual stroke care.
Compared to patients in the usual care group, patients in both yoga groups significantly improved their balance.
Balance issues and the risk of falls are common among stroke patients, contributing to a greater risk of disability.
Patients in the yoga groups also saw a greater improvement in their quality of life.
Schmid added, “For chronic stroke patients, even if they remain disabled, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six months, or maybe a year.”
Yoga is seen as being more therapeutic than traditional exercise as it combines physical movements with meditation and breathing exercises. “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,” continued Schmid.
The small scale of the study does imply some limitations on generalizing the findings, but the researchers are hopeful that larger studies will yield similar results.
Making the appropriate lifestyle changes is important for improving overall post-stroke health in order to reduce the risk of another stroke and other associated complications. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits to implement after a stroke include:
By following these lifestyle changes and working with your stroke rehabilitation team, you can have greater success in recovering from stroke, reducing complications, and going back to enjoying your life.