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Do Clients That Participate In Yoga Show Improvement In Occupational Performance?

Arlene Schmid, PhD, OTR, Dennis Cleary, MS, OTD, OTR/L

November 2, 2022

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Do clients that participate in yoga show improvement in occupational performance?

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I get super excited about this. One, I think yoga is great, but it is not enough. It is best when it is merged with occupational therapy. Most of our studies have been yoga only, but now we are shifting to yoga and OT. What we have found over and over is a dramatic change in the quality of life. Using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), we see significant changes and satisfaction with performance for many diagnoses like chronic pain, brain injury, and Parkinson's. Using this tool, we are looking at activities that are important but challenging to the client.

In yogic philosophy, the physical body changes first with yoga and then moves forward. When people feel better in their bodies with more range of motion and increased balance, it allows them to do more things they want. We also see a change in confidence. We started thinking it was balance confidence, and it turns out it is overall confidence. They feel like a different person, and they can do more things. This spirals quickly as most of our studies are only eight weeks, and we see these changes in occupational performance and satisfaction.

The other exciting thing is that while we tend to see a change in performance, the change in satisfaction is what is more significant. They acknowledge that they have changed and can do things better, but it also seems they have shifted their attitude. They are more satisfied as they are less worried or anxious. This is part of the trouble with yoga research. People tell us so many positive things, but we may not always have an outcome to go with it. People say, "You've changed my life," or "You've rocked my world."  I love those quotes, but I cannot measure that.


arlene schmid

Arlene Schmid, PhD, OTR

Arlene A. Schmid, PhD, OTR, FAOTA is a Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University. Dr. Schmid has been an occupational therapist for over 25 years and a rehabilitation scientist for nearly 20 years. Dr. Schmid has a long and extensive research history in rehabilitation research. The majority of her research studies have focused on the development and testing of interventions for people with neurological-based disabilities, such as stroke and brain injury. She has focused much of her research trajectory on the study of the benefits of yoga interventions for people with disabilities, and most recently she and her team have begun to merge yoga and occupational therapy or education.


dennis cleary

Dennis Cleary, MS, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Dennis Cleary has over 25 years of experience as an occupational therapist.  Dennis’ clinical practice has been primarily with children and adults with intellectual disabilities to encourage their full participation in all aspects of life at home, work, and in the community. He has had faculty positions at The Ohio State University and Indiana University. As a researcher, he has been on teams that have received over seven million dollars in grants from state and federal agencies, including a National Institutes of Health multisite trial of the Vocational Fit Assessment, an age-appropriate transition assessment, which he co-created. He has numerous publications and national and international presentations. Dennis is passionate about increasing the role of Occupational Therapy in transition-age service with the goal of improving outcomes and quality of life for all. 

 


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