The Boston Medical Center, whose patients are mostly poor, has been a pathbreaker in treating the whole person. Its volunteers and staff help patients find services for life issues that may be exacerbating health problems. BMC works with lawyers to get landlords to make building-code-required changes that affect asthma and other conditions.
Now it is doing an experiment with yoga.
On Monday, the Boston Globe wrote, a “yoga class, held in a Boston Medical Center lobby for staff and patients, features postures vetted for people with back pain. It was a prototype for an ongoing study exploring the use of yoga in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.
“A survey of 5,050 people who practice yoga, conducted for Yoga Journal in 2008, found that 44 percent — almost half — reported annual incomes of $75,000 or more, and 24 percent said their income was higher than $100,000. Chronic low-back pain annually affects between 5 and 10 percent of all income levels of the population …
“Because many yoga postures stretch and strengthen the muscles affecting the back, at least 10 published studies have been done on yoga and chronic low-back pain, says [BMC's Dr. Robert B.] Saper. But though the majority have shown yoga to be promising as a low-cost treatment, all have been done on predominantly white, educated, affluent populations, he says.
“ ‘In our patient population, it’s unusual to have back pain alone as a single problem,’ Saper says, noting that many patients also suffer from hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety. And while he emphasizes that he doesn’t consider yoga a ‘panacea for everything,’ he says that ‘because of the mind-body component of yoga, we’re aware that [it] may be helpful for a variety of patients with co-morbidities. And that it may help with depression, anxiety, and resilience.’ …
“The yoga group received one 75-minute class each week that included postures, deep breathing, and meditation. They were also given an instructional CD and equipment to practice 30 minutes a day at home. After 12 weeks, the yoga group reported one-third less pain and an 80 percent decrease in pain medications. The control group reported a decrease in pain of 5 percent and no change in medication use.”
Read more here.
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