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Adapting Tai Chi for Upper Limb Rehabilitation Post Stroke

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October 24, 2017 -
Tai Chi has been reported as being beneficial for improving balance post stroke, yet its utility in upper limb rehabilitation remains unknown.

In a recent study by University of Montreal and University of Sherbrooke in Canada, 12 chronic stroke survivors with persistent paresis of an upper limb underwent 60 minutes of adapted Tai Chi twice a week for eight weeks, with a 4-week follow up. A 10-min Tai Chi home program was recommended for the days without sessions. Tai Chi level of performance, attendance to the sessions, duration of self-practice at home and adapted Tai Chi movements used were recorded. Eleven participants completed the study.

A clinical reasoning algorithm underlying the adaptation of Tai Chi was elaborated throughout the trial. Participants with varying profiles including a severely impaired upper limb, poor balance, shoulder pain, and severe spasticity were not only capable of practicing the adapted Tai Chi, but attended all 16 sessions and practiced Tai Chi at home. The degree of self-practice for subgroups with low upper limb function, shoulder pain, or moderate-to-severe spasticity was similar to that of subgroups with greater upper limb function, no shoulder pain, and minimal-to-no spasticity.

Conclusion: Adapted Tai Chi seems feasible for upper limb rehabilitation post stroke. Although the study was based on a small sample size and requires confirmation, low upper limb function, insufficient balance, spasticity, and shoulder pain do not appear to hinder the practice of Tai Chi.




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