Enhancing Balance for Stroke Survivors: The Role of Yoga

Studies involving strokes and falls are discouraging, with studies showing they increase the risk of falling by up to fourfold and increase hip breakage following falls by nearly as much. Over 80% of individuals who experience stroke will also exhibit some degree of impaired balance; an experiment designed to test whether yoga practice may help people who have experienced stroke cope with increased risks associated with painful and dangerous falls produced positive results; researchers are currently exploring this idea further.

Research was conducted with 20 individuals with an average age of 66 over an 8-week period, who participated in twice weekly 60 minute group yoga classes led by a yoga therapist who custom tailored each pose according to each participant’s requirements.

By the conclusion of the program, balance factors measured using Fullerton Advance Balance Scale and Berg Balance Scale had improved by 34% and 17% respectively, as measured by Fullerton Advance Balance Scale and Berg Balance Scale respectively. Furthermore, confidence among participants had greatly increased following this study.

Many participants either wanted the study to continue or requested take-home yoga programs in order to continue practicing yoga at home. Individuals began performing poses first while sitting on chairs before moving on to sitting and standing poses before performing poses on the floor.

An individual with a score under 46 on the Berg Balance Scale indicates an increased risk of falls. At the outset of this research, individuals averaged starting off with scores between 40-46 on the Berg Balance Scale but eventually improved past this threshold to 47 – surpassing its fall risk threshold as they demonstrated significant endurance gains when tested using 2 minute step tests and 6 minute walk tests.

Study participants participated in yoga that had been modified so as to be difficult for anyone outside the study group to find an equivalent class offered publicly. For this kind of class to exist successfully, it must be taught by a yoga therapist with training in physiology, anatomy, as well as how to assist those living with disabilities.

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