Yoga as therapy for Parkinson’s disease?

Lead investigator: Naveen Elangovan

Can regular yoga practice help to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? In collaboration with researchers in the School of Nursing and the Department of Neurology we examined, if patients with Parkinson’s disease may benefit from participating in a regular routine of Yoga. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease affecting about 1.5 million Americans. Tremor, balance problems and abnormal slowness of movement are typical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease In this clinically supervised research study funded through a internal University of Minnesota grant (P.I. Dr. Corjena Cheung), 20 patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease attended supervised Yoga sessions for 12 weeks. Signs of oxidative stress, markers of social well-being, joint flexibility, balance and gait performance were monitored. The HSC lab performed the relevant biomechanical assessment of joint range of motion and gait and balance. Initial movement analysis showed that Yoga improved balance function, but not necessarily range of motion improves in our sample of patients.