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.