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OHSU researchers reveal yoga and exercise can improve patients’ quality of life


Research to be presented at American Academy of Neurology meeting on April 3

Results of a clinical trial conducted by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) reveal yoga or exercise assists multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with fatigue. The study was conducted and funded within the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders (ORCCAMIND) at OHSU. The research results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting on April 3 in Honolulu.

To assess the benefits of yoga and exercise in MS patients, researchers studied 69 people randomized into three study groups for six months. The first group took part in a weekly Iyengar yoga class adapted for people with MS. A second group took a weekly exercise class also adapted for people with MS, which used a stationary bicycle, and home exercise. Members of a third "waiting list" group maintained their normal state of activity for six months followed by an opportunity to enroll in one of the other two exercise groups.

"The overall goal of the study was to determine the effect of aerobic exercise and yoga on cognitive function, fatigue, mood and quality of life in MS patients," explained Barry Oken, M.D., professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of ORCCAMIND. "While neither yoga nor aerobic exercise appeared to impact cognitive function, there was significant improvement in fatigue for the two intervention groups when compared to the waiting list group."

The changes were measured through a series of cognitive tests and questionnaires pertaining to mood, sleepiness, fatigue and quality of life. These standard tests, which are used in numerous clinical trials, consist of a series of questions to measure each patient’s status in these areas. Study participants in all three groups underwent testing following initial enrollment in the trial and on completion of the six-month study. The test results were then compared.

"This study is being conducted concurrently with another trial aimed at determining the mental and physical impacts of yoga and exercise on relatively healthy aging individuals," Oken said. "We soon hope to have the results of that study to determine if activity interventions have a similar impact."

Jim Newman | EurekAlert!
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