Just recently, a new pilot study indicates that a customised yoga program for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is capable of improving walking ability, balance, fatigue, and general health status. Furthermore, it could even help to control inflammation.
According to the lead study author, Evan T. Cohen, who is a physical therapist and associate professor from Rutgers School of Health Related Professions in the State University of New Jersey, Stratford, the results add weight to the significance of physical activity in MS patients. “Neurologists should be recommending exercise to their MS patients, and if a patient chooses yoga, that’s a viable option, depending on that person’s needs,” stated Evan.
The study involved 15 women with an average age of 53.5 years. All of whom have been living with MS for approximately 14 years. They took part in specially designed yoga classes held at a nearby center. Unfortunately, the study size was limited to the total number of individuals able to fit in the yoga studio. This yoga program was created by a panel of experts, including yoga instructors, researchers, patients who teach or practice yoga, healthcare providers as well as scientists. The classes are led by two trained instructors along with an assistant and made used of “hybridised” version of various yoga styles. Some of the elements included were breathing, meditation, yoga philosophy, relaxation and yoga postures.
Evan went on to mention that this program was specifically designed for MS patients with moderate disability. “It’s probably too easy for people in an early stage of the disease, but probably not appropriate for people in later stages. However, moderate disability can encompass varying levels of mobility. The study included patients with almost full function, as well as 2 patients whose primary mode of mobility was a wheelchair, even though they met the study’s inclusion criteria of being able to walk a certain distance,” he said.
As of right now though, Evan mentioned that it was still not possible to determine if yoga is definitely better than other modes of physical activity. He also pointed out that the study was considered to be “exploratory” and involved researchers “casting a very wide net”. The good thing is that there are larger studies planned out to hopefully provide more conclusive information. For more of the story, you can read it here.