Falls are an important public health concern. They can result in serious injuries, enduring disabilities, drastic lifestyle changes, escalating healthcare expenses, and even death. Fall-associated healthcare costs in the United States have been estimated as high as $500 million a year. This does not even begin to assess the individual morbidity involved (disability, dependence, depression, unemployment, inactivity). Fall prevention should be of paramount concern to healthcare professionals and should be reevaluated on a regular basis.
- The Ochsner Journal
Tai Chi Can Improve Postural Stability
Pan J, Liu C, Zhang S, Li L. / Pub Med site
Purpose. The aim of the study was to examine the effects of Tai Chi (TC) training on postural control when upright standing was perturbed by upper limb movement. Methods. Three groups, TC, Brisk walk (BW), and sedentary (SE), of thirty-six participants aged from 65 to 75 years were recruited from local community centers. Participants performed static balance task (quiet standing for 30 s with eyes open and closed) and fitting task (two different reaching distances X three different opening sizes to fit objects through). During tasks, the COP data was recorded while standing on the force plate. Criteria measures calculated from COP data were the maximum displacement in anterior-posterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) directions, the 95% confidence ellipse area (95% area), and the mean velocity. Results. No significant effect was observed in the static balance task. For fitting tasks, the group effect was observed in all directions on COP 95% area (p < 0.05) and the TC group showed reduced area. The tests of subject contrasts showed significant trends for reaching different distances and fitting different openings conditions in all directions, the 95% area, and the mean velocity (p < 0.05).
Conclusion. Compared to the other two groups, long-term TC exercise helps in reducing the effects of upper body perturbation as measured by posture sway.
Research and background into Tai Chi for falls prevention
Mark Peters / pub. NHS networks
This subject has had a long and controversial history as it has been applied in broad brush strokes rather than targeting frail and pre-frail people as two significant groups. The most well known and quoted study is the Wolf study (1) which states general exercise reduce risks of falls by 10%. Specialised training reduces risks by 25%. Tai Chi reduces risks of falls by 47%(1)
The reason for writing this article is to discuss the research and my personal findings as a Tai Chi teacher working within health authorities and regular classes open to the general public. Through my company Balanced Approach, I have been presenting workshops for Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Extend Teachers, PSI’s and care workers. This training has been organised by the PCT’s and Sports Councils.
Try tai chi to improve balance, avoid falls
Stephanie Watson / Harvard Women's Health Watch
Compared to the pumping intensity of spin or Zumba, a tai chi class looks like it’s being performed in slow motion. Watching the gentle, graceful movements of this ancient Chinese practice, it’s hard to imagine that tai chi can burn off a single calorie or strengthen muscles. But this exercise program is far more dynamic than it looks.
“The slowness that you see from the outside can be deceptive,” says Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. As an aerobic workout, tai chi is roughly the equivalent of a brisk walk (depending on the intensity at which you perform it). And as a resistance training routine, some studies have found it similar to more vigorous forms of weight training, says Dr. Wayne, who is also founder and director of the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Somerville, Massachusetts and co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi (due out next spring).
A randomized, controlled trial of tai chi for the prevention of falls
Voukelatos A1, Cumming RG, Lord SR, Rissel C.
The Central Sydney tai chi trial
To determine the effectiveness of a 16-week community-based tai chi program in reducing falls and improving balance in people aged 60 and older.
Randomized, controlled trial with waiting list control group.
Community in Sydney, Australia.