176753 Mechanisms for improved balance afforded by traditional Taiji and Qigong exercise: A randomized controlled trial of older adults

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 10:50 AM

Yang Yang, PhD , Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Taiji (T'ai Chi) has been shown to have generally positive effects on functional balance and may reduce the probability of falls in older adults. However, few studies have investigated the mechanisms by which Taiji may improve balance. Further, standing and sitting Qigong meditation exercises are fundamental components of traditional Taiji training, but these exercises have been mentioned in only one previous Taiji study to date.

In this study we aimed to evaluate changes in sensory and biomechanical balance mechanisms as a consequence of a Taiji exercise program for healthy older adults that intentionally emphasized both sitting and standing meditation and Taiji forms. Forty-nine healthy older adults (mean age 80.4, std. dev. 8.6) were randomized to participate in Taiji-Qigong (TQ) training (N=33) or a wait-list control group (WC, N=16). Sensory Organization Test (SOT), quiet stance Base of Support (BoS), and feet opening angle (α) measures were collected prior to instruction (T0), at two months (T2), and six months (T6).

Baseline normalized TQ group SOT vestibular ratio scores were +21% and +53% greater than WC at T2 and T6, respectively. Baseline normalized TQ group BoS scores were +16% and +27% greater than WC at T2 and T6, respectively, though no differences were observed in (α).

We conclude that improved use of vestibular input and wider stances are two mechanisms by which TQ training may improve healthy older adults' balance. Further study is needed to evaluate other balance mechanisms afforded by TQ practice and the individual and combined effects of different aspects of traditional Taiji practice.

Learning Objectives:
1. Summarize evidence-based Taiji research on efficacy of Taiji 2. List mechanisms of balance improvement afforded by TQ practice 3. Recognize limitations of early studies and areas of further Taiji research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator for the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Center for Taiji and Qigong Studies aging Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.