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  • Yoga Increases Balance, Endurance in Veterans, Says Indiana University Researcher

    An Indiana University study that exposed older veterans with stroke to yoga found that a range of balance items measured by the Berg Balance Scale and Fullerton Advance Balance Scale improved by 17% and 34%, respectively, by the end of the program. 

    The pilot study involved 19 men and 1 woman, average age 66. For 8 weeks, they participated in a twice-weekly hour-long group yoga class taught by a yoga therapist who dramatically modified the poses to meet the participants' needs. The veterans initially performed poses while seated in chairs then progressed to seated and standing poses. Eventually, they all performed poses on the floor.

    On average, participants began the study with a score of 40 on the Berg Balance Scale and then improved to 47, moving them past the fall-risk threshold. Study participants also showed significant improvements in endurance based on a seated 2-minute step test and a 6-minute walk test.

    Lead researcher Arlene A. Schmid, PhD, OTR, said research into therapeutic uses for yoga is "really taking off," particularly in mental health fields. Clinically, she has been watching a small trend of occupational therapists and physical therapists also becoming yoga therapists. The yoga performed in the study was modified to the extent that Schmid said it would be very difficult to find a comparable class offered publicly. Such a class should be taught by a yoga therapist who has had additional training in anatomy and physiology, and how to work with people with disabilities. Schmid hopes to expand the study so she and her colleagues can explore whether such classes are effective on a larger scale.


    • Just started my Yoga Teacher Training mid-May and recently exposed to Restorative yoga. My excellent instructor also always makes us think about adaptations. Already using it in my PT practice. Thanks for your research.

      Posted by Melissa Bruhn PT on 6/12/2011 4:33 PM

    • I have been teaching yoga for 8 years, and have only recently begun my career as a PTA. My interest in therapeutics as a yoga teacher lead me to physical therapy, and now I am getting the opportunity to use both these disciplines with my patients. There are endless possibilities here, like many movement-arts disciplines, yoga offers an opportunity for patients to really connect with the material they are working with! And, yes, there are many excellent balance challenges in yoga!

      Posted by Meg Sutton PTA on 6/13/2011 12:13 PM

    • This is just wonderful to hear. I use yoga with all of my patients as part of their comprehensive home exercise program. Many of my patients find that the basic poses help relieve their pain in a safe manner, while some graduate or return to a much more vigorous yoga practice. Yoga is so much more than just the poses, which can be modified for any population, and the yoga principles are appropriate across the whole spectrum of people we may see. Thanks for publishing and promoting this research. Aaron LeBauer PT, DPT, LMBT www.LeBauerPT.com

      Posted by Aaron LeBauer PT, DPT, LMBT on 6/14/2011 10:16 PM

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