Jacobs Journal of Yoga and Natural Medicine

Yoga Improves Functional Gait and Quality of Life for Adults with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: A Pilot Study

*Arlene Schmid
Department Of Occupational Therapy, College Of Health And Human Sciences,, Colorado State University, Colorado, United States

*Corresponding Author:
Arlene Schmid
Department Of Occupational Therapy, College Of Health And Human Sciences,, Colorado State University, Colorado, United States

Published on: 2018-04-23


Objective: To: 1) examine the associations between functional gait and HRQOL (Neuro-QoL) scores in people with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN); 2) determine the change in Neuro-QoL scores in participants pre- and post-eight-week yoga intervention; and 3) examine the change in functional gait measures (6-Minute Walk Test, 10-Meter Walk Test) in participants pre- and post-eight-week yoga intervention. Methods: This is the primary analysis of a non-controlled pretest-posttest pilot study to understand the impact of yoga on functional gait and HRQOL in people with DPN. The study took place in a research laboratory. People with DPN were included in the study if they were: 18+ years; English speaking; able to walk 10 meters with or without a device; able to verbally communicate; and committed to attending twice weekly yoga sessions for eight weeks. Each participant took part in an 8-week yoga intervention that met twice per week for one hour each session. Yoga sessions included modified physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. The yoga was modified for persons with DPN and included seated, standing, and supine postures. The Neuro-QoL was used to assess HRQOL. The Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) was conducted to examine walking endurance and the 10-Meter Walk Test was used to evaluate walking speed. Results: HRQOL and functional gait showed fair correlation. HRQoL improved by 8% (p=0.054). Both components of functional gait improved significantly, walking endurance by 15% (1018.48±406.99 vs. 1167.18±447.75, p=0.014) and walking speed (m/s) by 23% (0.74±0.25 vs. 0.91±0.28, p<0.001). Conclusion: The results demonstrate that yoga is a potential intervention to promote improvements in HRQOL and functional gait, including both walking speed and walking endurance, in individuals with DPN. Rehabilitation and medical professionals may consider this as a modality for helping patients manage their DPN.


Diabetes, Neuropathy, Rehabilitation, Yoga, Functional Gait, Health-Related Quality of Life


Diabetes Mellitus (DM) affects roughly 29.1 million persons in the United States, with up to 50% of people with DM estimated to be effected by Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN). Diabetic neuropathies encompass a group of nerve disorders caused by DM. DPN is nerve damage specifically in the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and is the most common type of neuropathy affecting populations with diabetes. The negative effects of DPN include declines in functional gait and quality of life (QoL). Functional gait includes walking speed as well as walking endurance. Decreased gait speed has been linked to increased likelihood of death in older adults and has been referred to as the ‘sixth vital sign’. In people with DPN, muscle strength and ankle mobility are associated with reductions in gait speed for people with DPN. DM is associated with a reduction in lower leg muscle strength which is correlated with a loss of mobility[6]. Declines in strength and mobility in DM populations were found to be associated with a loss of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). However, it is not currently known if there is a correlation between functional gait (a component of mobility) and HRQOL in DM populations.