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Schmid AA, Van Puymbroeck M, Altenburger PA, Schalk NL, Dierks TA, Miller KK, Damush TM, Bravata DM, Williams LS. Poststroke balance improves with yoga: a pilot study. Stroke. 2012 Sep 1; 43(9):2402-7.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Balance impairment is common after stroke; modified yoga may be able to improve balance and other important poststroke variables. Scientific-evidence is needed to support such treatment interventions. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a yoga-based rehabilitation intervention on balance, balance self-efficacy, fear of falling (FoF), and quality of life after stroke. METHODS: This was a prospective, randomized, pilot study of yoga-based rehabilitation for people with chronic stroke. All yoga sessions were taught by a registered yoga therapist, occurred twice per week for 8 weeks and included seated, standing, and floor postures with relaxation and meditation. Balance was assessed with the Berg Balance Scale, balance self-efficacy with the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, FoF with a dichotomous yes/no question, and quality of life with the Stroke Specific Quality of Life scale. RESULTS: There were no significant differences between wait-list control (n = 10) and yoga (n = 37) groups in baseline or follow-up scores. However, using within-group comparisons, yoga group data demonstrated significant improvement in balance (Berg Balance Scale, 41.3 11.7 vs 46.3 9.1; P < 0.001) and FoF (51% vs 46% with FoF; P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: A group yoga-based rehabilitation intervention for people with chronic stroke has potential in improving multiple poststroke variables. Group yoga may be complementary to rehabilitation, may be possible in medical-based and community-based settings, and may be cost-effective. Further testing of group yoga-based rehabilitation interventions is warranted. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: http://clinicaltrials.gov. Unique Identifier: NCT01109602.