Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious health condition that often results in cognitive deficits, emotion and mood disturbances, physical impairment, and overall decreased quality of life. Caregivers of individuals with TBI also commonly experience reduced psychological wellbeing as a result of the financial, emotional, and physical stress associated with caregiving. While many post-TBI rehabilitation programs exist, few are easily available and accessible to people living with TBI in community settings. Given that people with TBI and their caregivers may struggle to access in-clinic services as a result of injury-related impairments and income loss, public health experts have identified an urgent need to implement longer-term community-based rehabilitation interventions to improve outcomes and quality of life among people with TBI.
A team of researchers examined the effectiveness of LoveYourBrain Yoga, a six-week rehabilitation program consisting of yoga practice and psychoeducation for people with TBI and their caregivers. Each class is 90 minutes long and includes deep breathing, gentle yoga, guided meditation, and facilitated discussion among group members. While many yoga programs aim to improve mental health and wellness more generally, LoveYourBrain is unique in that it was designed specifically for individuals affected by TBI.
The researchers collected data from 1,563 people who participated in more than one LoveYourBrain yoga class in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Participants included TBI survivors and caregivers aged 15-70 years who were able to engage in gentle exercise and group discussion.
To determine the effectiveness of the program, the research team used several evidence-based measures to assess quality of life among participants, as well as their attendance and satisfaction with the program. After analyzing the data, the research team found that:
- Individuals with TBI who participated in the LoveYourBrain program showed significant improvements in resilience, positive emotional affect, cognition, wellbeing, and overall quality of life.
- TBI survivors also demonstrated improved ability to regulate specific emotions and behaviors that may commonly occur after TBI, such as anxiety, stress, anger, and impulsivity.
- Caregivers reported improvements in their physical and psychological health.
- The program was popular among participants, receiving a satisfaction rating of 9.3/10.
The researchers concluded that the LoveYourBrain yoga program is a viable intervention for individuals with TBI and their caregivers. In only six weeks, the program improved quality of life and cognition among TBI survivors and enhanced emotional and psychological wellbeing in both survivors and their caregivers. Because the program is community-based and can be administered by a single teacher (certified in yoga and trained in LoveYourBrain), it could be implemented on a large scale to improve wellbeing in the post-injury period.
Donnelly KZ, Baker K, Pierce R, et al. A retrospective study on the acceptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of LoveYourBrain Yoga for people with traumatic brain injury and their caregivers. Disability and Rehabilitation. (June 2021).