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Yoga Helped Older Stroke Victims Improve Balance, Endurance

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    Yoga Helped Older Stroke Victims Improve Balance, Endurance 05 Jun 2011 An Indiana University study that exposed older veterans with stroke to yoga produced
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 5, 2011
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      Yoga Helped Older Stroke Victims Improve Balance, Endurance
      05 Jun 2011

      An Indiana University study that exposed
      older veterans with stroke to yoga produced
      "exciting" results as researchers explore
      whether this popular mind-body practice can
      help stroke victims cope with their increased
      risk for painful and even deadly falls.

      The pilot study involved 19 men and one woman,
      average age of 66. For eight weeks, they
      participated in a twice weekly hour-long group
      yoga class taught by a yoga therapist who
      dramatically modified the poses to meet the veterans' needs.

      A range of balance items measured by the
      Berg Balance Scale and Fullerton Advance
      Balance Scale improved by 17 percent and
      34 percent respectively by the end of the
      program. But equally exciting to lead researcher
      Arlene A. Schmid, rehabilitation research
      scientist at the Richard L. Roudebush VA
      Medical Center in Indianapolis, was the measurable
      gain in confidence the study participants had in their balance.

      "It also was interesting to see how much
      the men liked it," said Schmid, assistant
      professor of occupational therapy in the
      School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
      at Indiana University-Purdue University
      Indianapolis. Many of the veterans wanted
      the study to continue or asked for a take-home
      exercise plan so they could continue the
      practice. "They enjoyed it so much partly
      because they weren't getting any other treatment.
      They had already completed their rehabilitation
      but felt there still was room for improvement."

      Schmid discussed her findings on Saturday
      during the American College of Sports Medicine
      meeting in Denver. Her poster presentation,
      "Preliminary Evidence of Yoga on Balance and
      Endurance Outcomes for Veterans with Stroke"
      will be from 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. in Hall B in
      the session for Fitness and Performance Testing
      for Posture, Stability and Balance.

      Statistics concerning strokes and falls are
      grim, with studies showing that strokes can
      quadruple the risk of falling and greatly
      increase the risk of breaking a hip after a
      fall. An estimated 80 percent of people who
      have strokes will also have some degree of
      impaired balance.

      The study participants performed poses initially
      while seated in chairs and then progressed to
      seated and standing poses. Eventually, they all
      performed poses on the floor, something Schmid
      considers significant because of a reluctance
      many older adults have to working on the floor.

      "Everything was modified because we wanted them
      to be successful on day one," Schmid said.
      "Everyone could be successful at some level."

      A score of less than 46 on the Berg Balance
      Scale indicates a fall risk. Schmid said the
      study participants on average began the study
      with a score of 40 and then improved to 47,
      moving them past the fall risk threshold. The
      study participants also showed significant
      improvements in endurance based on a seated
      two-minute step test and a six-minute walk test.

      Schmid said research into therapeutic uses for
      yoga is "really taking off," particularly in
      mental health fields. Clinically, she has been
      watching a small trend of occupational therapists
      and physical therapists also becoming yoga
      therapists. The yoga performed in the study
      was modified to the extent that Schmid said
      it would be very difficult to find a comparable
      class offered publicly. Such a class should
      be taught by a yoga therapist who has had
      additional training in anatomy and physiology
      and how to work with people with disabilities.
      Schmid hopes to expand the study so she and her
      colleagues can explore whether such classes
      are effective on a larger scale.

      Notes:

      The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, QUERI.

      Study coauthors are Amanda N. Gerwig and Kristine K. Miller, IUPUI and Roudebush VAMC; Nancy Schalk, Heartland Yoga Community, Indianapolis; Marieke Van Puymbroek, IU Bloomington; Peter Alterburger and Tracy Dierks, IUPUI.
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