Pilates for Stroke and Brain Trauma Recovery

Pilates is a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. It was developed in the 20th century by a German Joseph Pilates,whose father is a prize-winning gymnast and mother who is a naturopath.

It is practiced worldwide, especially in western countries such as Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pilates on Stroke Recovery :

Most stroke survivors intuitively hold their breath as they make the arduous journey to learn to move their bodies again. It is instinctive and almost universal when your body suddenly feels unfamiliar, weak and unstable. As a result, their physical recovery lacks efficiency as the body globally contracts its muscles and become easily fatigued from the constant contractions.

Pilates’ emphasis on controlled breathing with each movement not only boosts physical efficiency by decreasing unnecessary contractions but also facilitates proper alignment in posture and overall balance. In addition, the emphasis on elongation of each movement helps to open up the trunk and pelvic area allowing more range of motion resulting in more freedom of movement during dynamic activities. With hemiplegia, there is a strong tendency to shift completely to the unaffected side, which only reinforces the weakness and poor motor control of the affected side. As a result, the asymmetry in the physical body becomes reinforced as opposed to moving towards correction. By using Pilates principles to facilitate proper breathing and alignment, comes improved balance and with improved balance, comes increased confidence.

Pilates May Help Stroke Survivor

Pilates training may help sub-acute-stroke survivors to improve functional balance and quality of life, concluded authors of a small study published in the International Journal of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (2013; 2 [4], 204–11). Subacute-stroke survivors have had a stroke within the preceding 3–6 months.

Researchers from C.U. Shah Physiotherapy College in Surendranagar, Gujarat, India, conducted the study to determine whether a Pilates practice could help stroke survivors, since other studies had found Pilates valuable for improving postural stability and balance in older adults.

The study had an assessor-blinded, randomized controlled design. Investigators divided 23 subjects between two groups: Pilates or a control group. Pilates subjects took 8 weeks of 45-minute Pilates classes three times per week in addition to receiving conventional poststroke therapy. Control participants only attended conventional therapy. Assessors, who did not know which group participants were in, collected data on functional balance and quality of life at baseline and after the 8-week intervention.

Data analysis revealed significant improvement in Pilates group members compared with control subjects in both functional balance and quality of life. While control group participants also showed some balance improvement, they did not experience quality-of-life enhancement. Limitations of the study included its small sample size and short duration. More research was recommended.

Pilates exercises used in the study included the following traditional mat exercises and three standing exercises:

alternate toe taps
side to side
side kick
spine twist
side leg lift (standing)
tandem stance (standing)
ball wall-squat (standing)
Conventional physical therapy for stroke survivors consisted of basic stretching, strengthening, training in the activities of daily living, and gait training.Pilates May Help Stroke Survivors

Sources: Wikipedia, Idea Health and Fitness Association

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