Tai Chi Improves Sleep Quality and Depression for Late Life Insomnia
September 15, 2014 -
Patients suffering from
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience a wide array of symptoms, including balance
problems, mobility impairment, fatigue and depression. Physical exercise has
recently been acknowledged as a treatment option complementary to medication.
However, information regarding putative effects of structured exercise programs
on neurological symptoms is sparse.
Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art incorporating physical
exercise and mindfulness training, has been shown to yield health benefits in
various neurological groups. It seems particularly suitable for patients with
motoric deficits as it challenges coordination and balance. A recent study,
reported by the journal BMC neurology in August 2014, was to
explore the therapeutic value of structured Tai Chi training for coordination,
balance, fatigue and depression in mildly disabled MS patients.
A sample of 32 MS patients was examined. A
structured Tai Chi course was devised and a Tai Chi group participated in two
weekly sessions of 90 minutes duration for six months, while a comparison group
received treatment as usual (TAU). Both groups were examined prior to and
following the six-months interval with regards to balance and coordination
performance as well as measures of fatigue, depression and life satisfaction.
Following the intervention, the Tai Chi group showed
significant, consistent improvements in balance, coordination, and depression,
relative to the TAU group. Additionally, life satisfaction improved. Fatigue
deteriorated in the comparison group, whereas it remained relatively stable in
the Tai Chi group.
The consistent pattern of results confirms that Tai
Chi holds therapeutic potential for MS patients. Further research is needed to
determine underlying working mechanisms, and to verify the results in a larger
sample and different MS subgroups.