An eight-week yoga rehabilitation program led to significant improvements in strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.
PROBLEM: Around five million stroke survivors in the U.S. live with lingering physical impairments, including reduced functional strength, flexibility, and endurance. These "chronic stroke" symptoms alter patients' lifestyles by making them less mobile and independent.
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METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Arlene Schmid enrolled older veterans recovering from stroke in an adapted yoga program. These men and women had completed their post-stroke occupational and physical therapy before the study commenced but continued to have stroke-related injuries. Over an eight-week period, the researchers measured their hip flexion strength, ability to perform arm curls, aerobic endurance during a six-minute walk, speed at standing from a seated position, and range of motion.
RESULTS: The veterans who were practicing yoga experienced gains in functional strength, flexibility, and endurance. A related study that focused on the participants' gaits showed improved balance as well as faster and longer strides. Schmid explains in her report that yoga might have "improved neuromuscular control, likely allowing for strength improvements in affected limbs, sides or areas of disuse."