The effects of Tai Chi Chuan on postural stability in the elderly: preliminary report

Author: Lin YC//Wong AM//Chou SW//Tang FT////
Affiliation: Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, R.O.C.
Conference/Journal: Changgeng Yi Xue Za Zhi
Date published: 2000
Other: Volume ID: 3 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 197-204 , Word Count: 222

BACKGROUND: Tai chi chuan (TCC) is a traditional Chinese conditioning exercise, consisting of a series of graceful movements linked together in a continuous sequence so that the body is constantly shifting from one foot to the other. We propose that subjects practicing TCC will have better postural control and stability than will active non-practitioners. METHODS: We compare static and dynamic postural controls in 14 TCC practitioners and 14 healthy active older adults using the Smart Balance Master System. The TCC group, containing 7 male and 7 female subjects (mean age, 70.9 ± 3.3 years), had been practicing TCC regularly for 2 to 35 years. The control group included 4 male and 10 female healthy and active older subjects (mean age, 69.1 ± 3.1 years), with age and body size matched to the TCC group. RESULTS: The results of static postural control tests showed no differences between the TCC and control groups under simple conditions (eyes open, eyes closed, swaying vision, and eyes open with swaying surface), but in the more complicated conditions (eyes closed with sway-referenced support and sway-referenced vision and support), the TCC group had significantly better results than the control group. In the dynamic balance test, the TCC group had significantly better results only in the rhythmic forward-backward weight-shifting test. CONCLUSION: Our data demonstrate that regular TCC practitioners have better postural stability, especially in the more complicated conditions with disturbed visual and somatosensory conditions.