Clinical Effectiveness of Cognitively Enhanced Tai Ji Quan Training on Global Cognition and Dual-Task Performance During Walking in Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment or Self-Reported Memory Concerns : A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author: Fuzhong Li1, Peter Harmer1, Elizabeth Eckstrom2, Kathleen Fitzgerald3, Kerri Winters-Stone4
1 Oregon Research Institute, Springfield, Oregon (F.L., P.H.).
2 Division of General Internal Medicine & Geriatrics, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon (E.E.).
3 McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, Springfield, Oregon (K.F.).
4 Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon (K.W.).
Conference/Journal: Ann Intern Med
Date published: 2023 Oct 31
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.7326/M23-1603. , Word Count: 302

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) negatively impacts cognition and dual-task abilities. A physical-cognitive integrated treatment approach could mitigate this risk for dementia.

To compare the effectiveness of cognitively enhanced tai ji quan versus standard tai ji quan or stretching exercise in improving global cognition and reducing dual-task walking costs in older adults with MCI or self-reported memory concerns.

3-group, randomized (1:1:1), superiority trial. ( NCT04070703).

Community residential homes.

318 older adults with self-reported memory decline or concern and a Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) global score of 0.5 or lower at baseline.

Cognitively enhanced tai ji quan (n = 105), standard tai ji quan (n = 107), or stretching (n = 106). All groups exercised at home via real-time videoconferencing, 1 hour semiweekly for 24 weeks.

The co-primary endpoints were change in Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA; range, 0 to 30) and dual-task walking costs (difference between single- and dual-task gait speed, expressed in percentage) from baseline to 24 weeks. Secondary outcomes included CDR-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), Trail Making Test B, Digit Span Backward (DSB), and physical performance tests. Outcomes were assessed at 16, 24 (primary endpoint), and 48 weeks (6 months after intervention).

A total of 304 participants (96%) completed the 24-week assessment. Cognitively enhanced tai ji quan outperformed standard tai ji quan and stretching with a greater improvement in MoCA score (mean difference, 1.5 points [98.75% CI, 0.7 to 2.2 points] and 2.8 points [CI, 2.1 to 3.6 points], respectively) and in dual-task walking (mean difference, 9.9% [CI, 2.8% to 16.6%] and 22% [CI, 13% to 31%], respectively). The intervention effects persisted at 48-week follow-up.

There was no nonexercise control group; participants had subjective or mild cognitive impairment.

Among community-dwelling older adults with MCI, cognitively enriched tai ji quan therapy was superior to standard tai ji quan and stretching exercise in improving global cognition and reducing dual-task gait interference, with outcomes sustained at 48 weeks.

Primary funding source:
National Institute on Aging.

PMID: 37903365 DOI: 10.7326/M23-1603