Religious belief and spiritual practice may aid stroke recovery

Strong religious beliefs can protect strokestroke patients from emotional distress, perhaps aiding recovery, according to a new study.

WebMeD reported on a study showing that emotional distress, particularly depression, has been shown in other research to negatively affect recovery during a stroke patient's hospitalization or after discharge.

In this study, researchers asked about the survivors' religious beliefs and spirituality and evaluated them for anxiety and depression. They found that the higher the anxiety and depression scores, the lower the religious and spirituality beliefs.

The association held even after the researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect emotional distress, such as the degree of physical functioning after the stroke, marital status, and living conditions.

The study was done by Salvatore Giaquinto, MD, of the San Raffaele Pisana Rehabilitation Center in Rome, and fellow researchers.

WebMD states that 'exactly why strong faith is linked to less distress is not known.' Presumably there is a physiological mechanism. Harold Koenig, MD at Duke has already done much work showing positive correlation between religious and spiritual practice, and health. However, it is always difficult to tell which variables -- social support, neurotransmitters, or something else - are at work.

See Giaquinto, S. Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association; online Feb. 16, 2007.

Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.