A recent study shows that individuals who practice yoga can help to recover balance, and prevents potentially fatal falls if they have ever had a stroke. Researchers report that stroke survivors who practice specialized post-stroke yoga poses improved their balance by 34%. This is particularly important in regards to the risk of falling and breaking a hip, which increases considerably after an individual sufferers from a stroke. Yoga also increased self-confidence, enabling the individuals to be more physically active in their communities. Arlene A. Schmid, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, noticed that participants enjoyed the yoga sessions and desired to continue the practice at home as well. Most of them felt the need to improve on what was achieved during rehabilitation; this demand was amply met by yoga classes.
This study, which was presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, recorded the effects yoga has on an individual's balance, fitness, and confidence in a group of 20 people who have suffered from a stroke. Participants of the study included 19 men and one woman who were around the age of 66-years-old. All the participants attended a yoga class for one hour, twice a week for eight weeks. The programs were modified to meet the individual needs of the participants. For example, in the initial stages, all the yoga poses were performed while seated, which gradually changed to standing poses as the participants showed progress. Once the individual was comfortable enough, the yoga poses were carried out on the floor.
The results showed that the balance of the participants improved by 17% as per the Berg Balance Scale, while the improvement measured according to the Fullerton Balance Scale was 34%. It also showed that the risk of additional falls reduced significantly. The endurance levels and self-confidence among the participants also improved; therefore, all of the participants were very physically active. This proves that yoga provides considerable benefits in improving balance and reducing the risk of falls.