Yoga – a 5,000 year-old practice based on Indian philosophy – is gaining popularity among cancer patients. It is used to clear the mind, relieve feelings of anxiety and reduce side effects of chemotherapy.
This summer, Bacharach conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of yoga and meditation on symptoms related to chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) marked by significant pain, numbness, burning or tingling in hands and feet.
During Bacharach’s eight-week study, 10 participants attended two 90-minute weekly classes held at Bacharach, practiced yoga and meditation from recordings at home and kept journals to monitor their progress.
The study was created and run by Mary Lou Galantino PT, MS, PhD, MSCE, a distinguished professor at Stockton University who helped expand Bacharach’s Oncology Rehabilitation Program; Robyn Tiger, MD, C-IAYT, RYT-500, a diagnostic radiologist turned yoga therapist who designed the yoga and meditation programs for the study; and Jennifer Brooks, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, who has nearly 20 years of oncology rehabilitation experience.
Robyn Tiger, MD, C-IAYT, RYT-500 was the third researcher involved in the yoga study
The goal of the study was to create a natural and holistic protocol that could be reproduced in order to decrease CIPN symptoms. Prior to the study, physical therapists evaluated each participant’s balance, flexibility, walking, sensation, stress, pain, sleep habits, and other aspects of life affected by CIPN.
“Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy severely affects an individual’s ability to walk and manipulate objects, and negatively impacts overall sleep and quality of life,” explained Jennifer. “We hope to meet the needs of this population and help them get back to their desired level of function, so they can return to activities they enjoyed prior to chemotherapy treatment.”
“We received some pretty amazing feedback from study participants, including decreased pain, better sleep and regained sensation in parts of their body,” said Robyn.
Study participants during one of the 90-minute classes
Preliminary study results have been positive in terms of improvement to functional measures. “It is very exciting and motivating to see the benefits that participants have received over the past eight weeks,” said Jennifer.
Based on the feedback from the first round of participants, the study will be updated, and a second cohort will be formed. To participate in the study, individuals must be over the age of 18, have CIPN due to cancer treatment and have completed their cancer treatment with no evidence of disease.
If you or a loved one is not eligible for the study but would like to learn more about Bacharach’s Oncology rehabilitation program, visit https://www.bacharach.org/services/oncology/ or call 609-652-7000.