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Yoga helps body and mind for people with MS

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Summary

24 people with MS took part in a four month yoga programme. It involved doing an intensive training course and then 17 weeks practice at home.

The researchers found that there was a significant improvement in strength, balance and peak expiratory flow. Peak expiratory flow is a measure of how fast a person can breathe out and was used to test how well the lungs were working. There were also improvements, though less significant ones, in mental health and quality of life.

Background

MS has a wide range of symptoms which can have an impact on everyday life. There are treatments which can make a difference including medication, therapies (such as physiotherapy) and management techniques like pacing to control the impact of fatigue.

This study looked at whether yoga could improve both physical and mental well being in MS.

How this study was carried out

24 people with MS took part in a four month yoga programme. It involved doing an intensive training course in Ananda yoga and then 17 weeks practice at home. Ananda yoga is a classical style of Hatha yoga which aims to harmonise the body, mind and emotions. It is more about the inner experience than an athletic practice.

Participants were assessed for both physical and psychological abilities including strength, mobility, balance and quality of breathing as well as quality of life.

What was found

The researchers found that there was a significant improvement in strength, balance and peak expiratory flow. Peak expiratory flow is a measure of how fast a person can breathe out and was used to test how well the lungs were working. There were also improvements, though less significant ones, in mental health and quality of life.

What does it mean?

The researchers concluded that yoga can have a positive impact on the physical abilities and quality of life of people with mild to moderate MS.

Salgado BC, Jones M, Ilgun S, et al.
Effects of a 4-month Ananda Yoga program on physical and mental health outcomes for persons with multiple sclerosis.
Int J Yoga Therap. 2013;23(2):27-38.
abstract

More about yoga and MS

Yoga uses a combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation to improve physical and mental health. Although there has been little research in this area, a previous study showed that it could reduce fatigue and improve quality of life for people with MS. Another study showed that practising certain yoga exercises could improve bladder symptoms.

There are several different forms of yoga some of which are less physically challenging than others. The research reported this week used Ananda yoga which is a classical style of Hatha yoga which aims to harmonise the body, mind and emotions. It is more about the inner experience than an athletic practice. You can watch an 8 minute video which explains more.

Some NHS services, MS therapy centres and other organisations run yoga classes specifically for people with MS or other health conditions, such as back problems, which may limit their ability to perform the more difficult yoga postures. In all classes, you can tell the teacher that you have MS. They will be able to adapt the postures for you if needed and keep the room cool. They are used to hearing about people's physical conditions and will keep it confidential if you want them to.

Research by topic areas...

Drugs in development

Daniels GH, Vladic A, Brinar V, et al.
Alemtuzumab-related thyroid dysfunction in a phase 2 trial of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Oct 29. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Epidemiology

Woung LC, Peng PH, Liu CC, et al.
A nine-year population-based cohort study on the risk of multiple sclerosis in patients with optic neuritis.
Tohoku J Exp Med. 2013;231(3):171-7.
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

Rehabilitation

Liberatore G, Clarelli F, Nuara A, et al.
Predictors of effectiveness of multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment on motor dysfunction in multiple sclerosis.
Mult Scler. 2013 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Assessment tools

Goldman MD, Motl RW, Scagnelli J, et al.
Clinically meaningful performance benchmarks in MS: Timed 25-Foot Walk and the real world.
Neurology. 2013 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Quality of life

Van Schependom J, D'hooghe MB, De Schepper M, et al.
Relative contribution of cognitive and physical disability components to quality of life in MS.
J Neurol Sci. 2013 Oct 19. [Epub ahead of print] 
abstract

Psychological aspects

Bianchi V, De Giglio L, Prosperini L, et al.
Mood and coping in clinically isolated syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
Acta Neurol Scand. 2013 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print]
abstract

Horner R.
Interventions for children coping with parental multiple sclerosis: A systematic review.
J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2013 Jun;25(6):309-13.
abstract

Pathophysiology

Hernández-Pedro NY, Espinosa-Ramirez G, de la Cruz VP, et al.
Initial immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis: innate immune response.
Clin Dev Immunol. 2013
abstract
Read the full text of this paper

Review

Nicholas JA, Boster AL, Racke MK.
Multiple sclerosis: Five new things.
Neurol Clin Pract. 2013 Oct;3(5):404-412.
abstract

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