Research News Flash
Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise practiced around the world. There are numerous variations of tai chi, all of which are centered on the basic components of slow and flowing movements, which emphasize focus and synchronized breathing. The movements are performed in a series of diagonal actions as special styles. Different types of tai chi incorporate anywhere from 18 to 100 postures in a sequence of calm and rhythmic actions. Performance of tai chi involves complex actions while controlling center of mass movement, taking steps in multiple directions, and holding single leg stands.
Given the nature of tai chi, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of tai chi on fall prevention in individuals with mild to moderate Parkinson’s. The effects on balance and functional mobility were also examined. Eighty participants were randomized into a 12-week tai chi intervention or a control group. Assessments at baseline and post intervention included motor function using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS III), the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and the Timed Up & Go (TUG) for functional mobility. In addition, participants were asked to document number of falls for six months after the end of the intervention. Results showed a significantly greater improvement in BBS scores by the tai chi group; no other differences were observed. During the six-month follow-up, the tai chi group had significantly fewer falls; fewer people fell and the average number of falls was less. These results lend support for development of tai chi programs to improve balance and decrease the incidence of falls in individuals with Parkinson’s.
Gao, Q., Leung, A., Yang, Y., Wei, Q., Guan, M., Jia, C., & He. C. (2014). Effects of tai chi on balance and fall prevention in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 28(8), 748-753.