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Yoga Improves Balance After Stroke

Study Shows Yoga Also Reduces Fear of Falling

Stroke Survivor's Recovery Is Ongoing Years After Stroke continued...

Serdar is a physical therapist who specializes in neurology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In her practice, among long-term stroke survivors, she sees similar positive results as those reported in the study.

"I'm not the least bit surprised," she says about the study's results.

Complex, progressively challenging activities such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi help the brain and the body readjust after a stroke, and, says Serdar, participating in a group improves quality of life.

"The interaction of the class is really beneficial," she says. "There's real camaraderie. They bond rapidly over their shared experiences, and there are benefits regardless of what exercise they do."

More Yoga Therapists Needed

Schmid says that additional studies need to be done to confirm the effectiveness of yoga. She also says that yoga therapy is not commonly available yet.

"I used to live in Hawaii, where yoga is everywhere," she says. "Here in the Midwest, it is harder to come by."

Still, she says, therapists are embracing the idea of using yoga in their clinical practice. She says that there is a lot of discussion among them about how to formalize the practice.

Neurologist Roger Bonomo, MD, who directs the Stroke Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, also says that the availability of yoga therapy is limited. But he likes the study and would consider informally recommending yoga for patients with access to a trained therapist.

"It is interesting and worth pursuing on an individual, case-by-case basis," says Bonomo. He was not involved in the research.

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