Adapted Yoga and Traumatic Brain Injury

Paradigm − April 12, 2016 − filed under Acquired Brain Injury

Morning Yoga Child's Pose

With more than 1.7 million people sustaining a traumatic brain injury each year, clinicians are constantly seeking new ways to minimize long-term consequences and improve quality of life. Could an adapted form of yoga help minimize the effects of a brain injury and help individuals recover?

Connecting the Mind and Body

A research team at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis recently concluded that adapted yoga can be beneficial for adults who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury. The study included an eight-week yoga session for three participants who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and all participants showed improvements in physical outcome measures. Among the group, results demonstrated a 36% improvement in balance, a 100% increase in lower extremity strength, and a 105% increase in endurance.

The results of this study lead researchers to believe that the integration of mind and body that occurs during yoga may be the key to its success. “One of the things about yoga that is different from traditional rehabilitation exercises is that it is more whole-body focused,” explains Kristine Miller, assistant professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences’ Department of Physical Therapy. “It helps people learn to take their nervous systems to a more calm and relaxed state, which helps with healing.”

An Alternative Treatment

An adapted yoga practice seeks to accommodate an injured worker’s specific physical impairments. The various movements and poses may be done from a wheelchair or a sturdy seat, and each participant moves based on his or her own personal comfort level. This form of exercise offers an alternative form of treatment to injured workers who are recovering from a brain injury, but may not be ready to exercise at a gym.

After the success of the first study, the research team began the second phase of a feasibility study in 2014. The objectives are to determine whether these types of adapted yoga programs can be integrated into the community, and whether it can be modified for people with other chronic disabilities.

At Paradigm Outcomes, we believe it’s important to treat the whole person, including the biological, psychological and social aspects of the injury. Further evidence of effectiveness may one day lead to adapted yoga becoming an alternative treatment option for injured workers. Stay informed with more complex injury news by connecting with Paradigm on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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