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Tai Chi May Improve Physical Performance among Peripheral Neuropathy Patients

June 28, 2010 - Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the nerves that carry information to and from the brain and spinal cord. This can produce pain, loss of sensation, and an inability to control muscles.

For inherited peripheral neuropathy, no medical treatments exist. However, there are therapies for many other forms.  In general, adopting healthy habits -- such as maintaining optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, following a physician-supervised exercise program, eating a balanced diet, correcting vitamin deficiencies, and limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption -- can reduce the physical and emotional effects of peripheral neuropathy.  Systemic diseases frequently require more complex treatments.

As a new study published in the American journal of Chinese medicine reports, two researchers from the DDepartment of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, conducted a study to examine the effects of a 24-week Tai Chi program on physical function in individuals with peripheral neuropathy.

In that study, 25 people with peripheral neuropathy participated in a modified, group-based Tai Chi practice. During the 24 consecutive weeks of program, the researchers assessed the physical functions of the participants every 6 weeks using several scientific measurements, including the 6-min walk, timed up-and-go test, leg strength and standing balance.

After 6 weeks of Tai Chi practice, participants started to show improvement in the 6-min walk, timed up-and-go, and leg strength performance. At the end of the study, the participants' plantar sensation also improved. Throughout the study period, the researchers didn't observe any adverse event. All of these results led them to the conclusion that long-term, group-based Tai Chi is a safe and effective intervention for those with Peripheral Neuropathy.




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