ó Michelle Brusseau was only 16 years old when she had a
massive stroke. A blood vessel tore in her brain and took away
her ability to walk, talk and hold up her head.
12 years ago.
she walks, talks and holds her head high. And for the past six
months, she has been doing yoga therapy as part of her
makes you feel good, like, happy, not tired," Brusseau
800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year,
and two-thirds of the survivors have some type of disability,
according to the American Stroke Association. About 30 percent
of people hospitalized for stroke are younger than 65 years
medical treatments and rehabilitations are effective in
helping survivors regain their abilities, some also try
alternative therapies such as acupuncture, canine therapy,
color therapy or yoga therapy to further improve their
Greene, who in 2012 founded Bcenter, a nonprofit organization
for stroke survivors and their families, wanted to introduce
yoga therapy to her stroke support group.
to find someone who works with stroke patients specifically is
challenging," Greene said.
So on a
recent afternoon, Brusseau sat in front of a room of stroke
survivors and caregivers at Winter Park Civic Center, in
Winter Park, Fla., to show them the benefits of yoga therapy.
Duke, a yoga therapist, gently helped Brusseau demonstrate
movements that help with muscle strength, breathing, balance
and even voice.
(Michelle and I) got together, we discussed our goals,"
said Duke, owner of Elevate Yoga Center in Orlando.
"Those goals included better balance, better breathing
and better walking.
even taught me eye exercises, because Iím concerned that my
face might not look the same on both sides," said
Brusseau, who speaks slowly and clearly.
preliminary and pilot studies have shown that yoga therapy can
be beneficial for stroke survivors and improve their mental
health and quality of life. Although evidence is still
emerging about its benefits, studies show that yoga therapy
could complement traditional rehabilitation.
therapists go through additional hours of training to learn
about anatomy, physiology and various disabilities and
conditions. The field is still new and groups like the Yoga
Alliance and the International Association of Yoga Therapists
have set curricula for becoming a yoga therapists.
individuals should "do extensive research before choosing
a type of yoga and instructor," warned Dr. Genevieve
Verrastro in an article in The Journal of Family Practice.
who specializes in child and adult students with special needs
or conditions like stroke, said she has had nearly 1,000 hours
of training to become a yoga therapist.
Greene, who suffered a stroke 20 years ago when she was 31,
said exposing survivors and their families to these
non-invasive modalities is her mission. The stroke paralyzed
her left side, took away her speech and hearing in her right
photos and headshots donít give away her history.
present so well, but as soon as I start talking and walking,
people realize that Iím scarred. That Iíve been through
that journey. That I have the war wounds. But we wear the
wounds as stripes. Weíre all heroes. We want to get beyond
this," said Greene.