A group of researchers based at Indiana University in the US have found that the ancient art of yoga could help to improve balance in individuals who have experienced a stroke but are not receiving rehabilitative care.
The pilot study was aimed at establishing the benefits of yoga among individuals who had previously suffered a chronic stroke at least six months prior to the start of the study.
Head of research Doctor Arlene Schmid said that for individuals who had suffered a stroke, a yoga group or a similar therapy could provide a cost effective solution for improving motor function and balance, delivered in a group environment.
The yoga classes delivered in the test were all taken by registered yoga therapists, and involved a combination of yoga postures, relaxation techniques and meditation – with classes becoming more advanced as each week passed.
When the patients from the yoga therapy group were then compared against a group of stroke sufferers who had not participated in any yoga classes, the researchers found that the first group saw a significant improvement in their balance.
Balance is a common issue among individuals who have suffered a stroke, statistically increasing the likelihood of falls and the chances of greater disability later on in life.
In addition, patients from the yoga group also reported a higher sense of general overall wellbeing.
Dr Schmid said: 'For chronic stroke patients, even if they remain disabled, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six months, or maybe a year.'
Whilst these findings are hugely positive, scientists now hope to conduct a larger scale investigation to cement their findings.
For further information about yoga, visit our Yoga Therapy information sheet.
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