We wanted to know if yoga helps to improve quality of life for stroke survivors.
Stroke is a major health issue worldwide, which affects people in many different ways. For example, stroke survivors may have problems moving around, and communicating and socialising with other people. Stroke may also affect how people feel. It may cause problems with memory and concentration. After discharge from hospital or other stroke services, stroke survivors have to cope with the long-term effects of stroke. Research has shown that yoga can help people with other long-term conditions to cope better. Yoga can improve quality of life (QoL).
We searched for studies published to July 2017.
We found two research studies that had assessed yoga for stroke survivors. Seventy-two people took part in the two studies. One study was in the USA and one was in Australia. On average, the stroke survivors were between 60 and 63 years old and it had been between four years three months and nine years since they had had a stroke. In the American study, yoga classes were held twice a week for eight weeks. In the Australian study, yoga classes were held once a week for 10 weeks. Both studies encouraged people to practice yoga at home, in their own time. Both studies used waiting-list control groups. This means that people in the control group could go to yoga classes at the end of the study.
The American study was funded by the US Government. The Austrailian study was funded by the National Stroke Foundation (Australia).
We were able to analyse study data from 69 participants. No significant benefit was found on measures of QoL, balance, strength, endurance, pain, disability scores. No significant benefit was found on measures of movement, although one study reported a significant benefit in improving aspects of range of movement. One study reported a significant benefit in reducing anxiety. Neither study reported on measures of patient harm.
Quality of the evidence
We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE. Overall, the quality of the evidence was very low, due to the small number of trials included in the review, both of which we judged to be at high risk of bias, particularly in relation to incompleteness of data and selective reporting, and especially regarding the representative nature of the sample in one study.
The review could not identify enough high-quality evidence on the benefits and safety of yoga in stroke rehabilitation. More good-quality research studies are needed to be sure that yoga has benefits for stroke survivors.