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Tai Chi improves standing balance of people with chronic stroke

Tai Chi improves standing balance of people with chronic stroke


Au-Yeung SS, Hui-Chan CW, Tang JC.


Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.


Neurorehabilitation and neural repair, 2009 Jun;23(5):515-22


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Our previous findings showed that 4 weeks of intensive Tai Chi practice improved standing balance in healthy seniors. This study set out to investigate whether Tai Chi could improve standing balance in subjects with chronic stroke.


METHODS: 136 subjects who suffered stroke at least 6 months earlier participated in this study. Among them, 62 people were randomly assigned to a control group (practicing general exercises and the other 74 to a Tai Chi group for 12 weeks of training. Each week, 1 hour of group practice was supplemented by 3 hours of self-practice. We used a short-form of Tai Chi consisting of 12 forms that require whole-body movements to be performed in a continuous sequence and demands concentration. A blinded assessor examined subjects at baseline, 6 weeks (mid-program), 12 weeks (end-program), and 18 weeks (follow-up).


The 3 outcome measures were (1) dynamic standing balance evaluated by the center of gravity (COG) excursion during self-initiated body leaning in 4 directions, (2) standing equilibrium evaluated in sensory challenged conditions, and (3) functional mobility assessed by Timed-up-and-go score. Mixed model repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to examine between-group differences.


RESULTS: When compared with the controls, the Tai Chi group showed greater COG excursion amplitude in leaning forward, backward, and toward the affected and no-affected sides, as well as faster reaction time in moving the COG toward the non-affected side in the end-program and follow-up assessments. The Tai Chi group also demonstrated better reliance on vestibular integration for balance control at end-program. However, neither group improved significantly in Timed-up-and-go scores.


CONCLUSIONS: Twelve weeks of short-form Tai Chi produced specific standing balance improvements in people with chronic stroke that outlasted training for 6 weeks.



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