New research finds those practicing Tai Chi had the fewest falls
This new research adds to the mounting evidence for tai chi.
Dr. Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, PhD, RN. Assistant professor, cardiovascular nurse scientist and principal investigator of this new research along with colleagues recruited 89 adult stroke survivors for this randomized prospective study outside of a hospital setting. Most of the participants had ischemic strokes with an average age of 70 years and 46% were women
Ischemic stroke occurs when the artery to the brain is blocked. Around 88% of all strokes are ischemic and is the most common kind of stroke. Many people with ischemic strokes are 60 years and older. Stroke patients are at a high risk for falls and subsequent injuries once they leave the hospital.
For the study 30 participants had practiced Tai Chi, 28 had usual care and 31 participated in SilverSneakers®.
The Tai Chi and SilverSneakers® groups participated in one hour exercise class three times a week for a period of 12 weeks. The usual care group received phone call weekly and written material about taking part in community based physical activity.
During the 12 weeks there was a total of 34 falls that occurred in participant’s homes mainly due to slipping or tripping. The Tai Chi group five falls, usual care group; 15 falls and the SliverSneaker group 14 falls. Only four participants had sought out medical care.
This study had used Yang-style Tai Chi is the most popular of the five styles used in the United States, mainly due to its emphasis on health benefits both physical and psychosocial benefits such as improved self-esteem and mental alertness and less depression, anxiety, and stress along with better quality of life.
Dr. Taylor-Piliae comments "Learning how to find and maintain your balance after a stroke is a challenge.” She adds "The main physical benefits of Tai Chi are better balance, improved strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance.” “Tai Chi is readily available in most U.S. cities and is relatively inexpensive."
Yang-style Tai Chi is characterized by gentle, graceful and expansive movements and is suitable for most people of any age and fitness level.
This research was presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2013.
In 2009, Dr. Christina Hui-Chan, PhD, DPT, MSc, and professor, University of Illinois, found that stroke survivors can improve their balance by practicing Tai Chi.
The study included 136 participants in Hong Kong, who had suffered a stroke six months prior to study. Participants were divided into two groups; Tai Chi or control group that practiced breathing, stretching and other exercises such as walking, sitting and memorizing.
According to Dr. Hui-Chan "The tai chi group did particularly better in conditions that required them to use their balance control.” "In only six weeks, we saw significant improvements. The ability to shift your weight is very important because all reaching tasks require it."
More information on martial arts for stroke survivors can be found at the Stroke Connection website.
Stroke survivors support groups can be found at the Stroke Association by zip code.