`Yoga can help regain balance in stroke survivors`

Washington: Practising group yoga can help improve motor functions and balance in chronic stroke survivors, a new research has claimed.

Researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis found that group yoga can improve balance in stroke survivors and may be more therapeutic than traditional exercise because the combination of postures, breathing and meditation may produce different effects than simple exercise.

Balance problems frequently last long after a person suffers a stroke, and are related to greater disability and a higher risk of falls.

The research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke tested the potential benefits of yoga among chronic stroke survivors, those whose stroke occurred more than six months earlier.

"For people with chronic stroke, something like yoga in a group environment is cost effective and appears to improve motor function and balance," said Arlene Schmid, lead researcher and assistant professor at the University said in a statement.

The study`s 47 participants, about three-quarters of them males, were divided into three groups: twice-weekly group yoga for eight weeks; a `yoga-plus` group, which met twice weekly and had a relaxation recording to use at least three times a week; and a usual medical care group that did no rehabilitation.

The yoga classes included modified yoga postures, relaxation, and meditation.

Compared with patients in the usual-care group, those who completed yoga or yoga-plus significantly improved their balance.

Furthermore, survivors in the yoga groups had improved scores for independence and quality of life and were less afraid of falling.

"For chronic stroke patients, even if they remain disabled, natural recovery and acute rehabilitation therapy typically ends after six months, or maybe a year," Schmid said.