The effect of Tai Chi exercise on gait initiation and gait performance in persons with Parkinson's disease.

Department of Applied Physiology & Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Parkinsonism & Related Disorders (Impact Factor: 4.13). 07/2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2013.06.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Gait dysfunction and postural instability are two debilitating symptoms in persons with Parkinson's disease (PD). Tai Chi exercise has recently gained attention as an attractive intervention for persons with PD because of its known potential to reduce falls and improve postural control, walking abilities, and safety at a low cost. The purpose of this report is to investigate the effect of Tai Chi exercise on dynamic postural control during gait initiation and gait performance in persons with idiopathic PD, and to determine whether these benefits could be replicated in two different environments, as complementary projects. In these two separate projects, a total of 45 participants with PD were randomly assigned to either a Tai Chi group or a control group. The Tai Chi groups in both projects completed a 16-week Tai Chi exercise session, while the control groups consisted of either a placebo (i.e., Qi-Gong) or non-exercise group. Tai Chi did not significantly improve Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Part III score, selected gait initiation parameters or gait performance in either project. Combined results from both projects suggest that 16 weeks of class-based Tai Chi were ineffective in improving either gait initiation, gait performance, or reducing parkinsonian disability in this subset of persons with PD. Thus the use of short-term Tai Chi exercise should require further study before being considered a valuable therapeutic intervention for these domains in PD.

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May 21, 2014