Yoga Could Help Stroke Rehabilitation, Study Suggests

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Yoga may be a powerful tool in stroke rehabilitation, according to new research.

The study, presented as two separate analyses at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, shows that spending eight weeks in an adapted yoga program helped stroke survivors to have greater balance, be more flexible, be stronger and have more endurance and strength.

The first analysis examined the physical benefits of yoga for people who had suffered a stroke. The researcher of that study -- Arlene Schmid, rehabilitation research scientist at the Roudebush VA Medical Center -- found that yoga likely helped increase strength, endurance and flexibility because it helped neuromuscular control.

And in the second analysis, study researcher Tracy Dierks found that yoga seemed to help the stroke patients to take longer steps and faster initial gait speeds, although they were unable to sustain a fast gait for the entire six minutes of the test. Dierks is an associate professor of physical therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"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," Dierks said in a statement. "But one often overlooked deficit remained: the inability to sustain gait speed for endurance."

The University of Maryland Medical Center noted that while yoga can be helpful for rehabilitation in stroke survivors, it's important for people to consult their doctors before participating because there are some moves that could be dangerous for certain people.

Recently, a study presented at the 12th Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing showed that appreciating the arts could increase quality of life for stroke survivors, and that stroke patients who find joy in music, theater and painting recover better than those who don't.

"The results suggest that art may make long term changes to the brain which help it recover when things go wrong," study researcher Dr. Ercole Vellone, assistant professor in nursing science at the University Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy, said in a statement.

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