Individuals with osteoarthritis can experience difficulty walking and poor strength, possibly leading to falls and fractures. Exercise has been found to increase strength and bone mineral density. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of 6 months of t'ai chi on knee muscle strength, bone mineral density, and fear of falling in older women with osteoarthritis.
Eighty-two (82) women with osteoarthritis, recruited from outpatient clinics and community health centers, were randomly assigned to either a t'ai chi group and took part in a t'ai chi program, or a control group. Of these, 30 subjects (mean age = 63 years) in the t'ai chi group and 35 (mean age = 61 years) in the control group completed post-test measures at 6 months.
After the 6-month study period, subjects in the t'ai chi program had significantly greater knee extensor endurance (pre- to post-test mean increase = 36.4 W/kg, versus 1.1 W/kg for the controls), and significantly greater bone mineral density in the neck of the proximal femur (mean change = 0.09, versus -0.10 for the controls), Ward's triangle (mean change = 0.04, versus -0.04 for the controls), and trochanter (mean change = 0.07, versus -0.05 for the controls) than the controls. However, knee extensor and flexor strength did not differ significantly between the groups. The fear of falling during daily activities reduced significantly more in the t'ai chi group (mean change = -2.40, versus 0.66 for the controls).
T'ai chi increased knee extensor muscle endurance and bone mineral density in older women with osteoarthritis, and decreased their fear of falling during daily activities. Further study with long-term follow-up is needed to substantiate the role of t'ai chi exercise in the prevention of fall and its related fracture.
"The Tai Chi group also displayed significant improvement in balance and abdominal muscle strength. In a subsequent study, Song and colleagues  reported that Tai Chi could improve knee extensor endurance, bone mineral density in the neck of the proximal femur, Ward's triangle, and trochanter and reduce fear of falling in women with OA. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Chi) is a Chinese traditional mind-body exercise and recently, it becomes popular worldwide. During the practice of Tai Chi, deep diaphragmatic breathing is integrated into body motions to achieve a harmonious balance between body and mind and to facilitate the flow of internal energy (Qi). Participants can choose to perform a complete set of Tai Chi or selected movements according to their needs. Previous research substantiates that Tai Chi has significant benefits to health promotion, and regularly practicing Tai Chi improves aerobic capacity, muscular strength, balance, health-related quality of life, and psychological well-being. Recent studies also prove that Tai Chi is safe and effective for patients with neurological diseases (e.g., stroke, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cognitive dysfunction), rheumatological disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and fibromyalgia), orthopedic diseases (e.g., osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, low-back pain, and musculoskeletal disorder), cardiovascular diseases (e.g., acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, and heart failure), chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and breast cancers. Tai Chi is an aerobic exercise with mild-to-moderate intensity and is appropriate for implementation in the community. This paper reviews the existing literature on Tai Chi and introduces its health-promotion effect and the potential clinical applications.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 09/2013; 2013(3-4):502131. DOI:10.1155/2013/502131 · 1.88 Impact Factor
"Numerous randomized trials suggest TC training can directly reduce prevalence of falls [5,8]. Other studies suggest TC positively impacts factors associated with falls including multiple sway parameters [46-48], clinical balance tests , musculoskeletal strength and flexibility [50-52], and fear of falling [48,53,54]. One study including only osteopenic women reported positive effects of 6 months of Tai Chi on one gait stride length, but not on dynamic posturography or clinical measures of balance . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tai Chi (TC) is a mind-body exercise that shows potential as an effective and safe intervention for preventing fall-related fractures in the elderly. Few randomized trials have simultaneously evaluated TC's potential to reduce bone loss and improve fall-predictive balance parameters in osteopenic women.
In a pragmatic randomized trial, 86 post-menopausal osteopenic women, aged 45-70, were recruited from community clinics. Women were assigned to either nine months of TC training plus usual care (UC) vs. UC alone. Primary outcomes were changes between baseline and nine months of bone mineral density (BMD) of the proximal femur and lumbar spine (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and serum markers of bone resorption and formation. Secondary outcomes included quality of life. In a subsample (n = 16), quiet standing fall-predictive sway parameters and clinical balance tests were also assessed. Both intent-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were employed.
For BMD, no intent-to-treat analyses were statistically significant; however, per protocol analyses (i.e., only including TC participants who completed ≥ 75% training requirements) of femoral neck BMD changes were significantly different between TC and UC (+0.04 vs. -0.98%; P = 0.05). Changes in bone formation markers and physical domains of quality of life were also more favorable in per protocol TC vs. UC (P = 0.05). Changes in sway parameters were significantly improved by TC vs. UC (average sway velocity, P = 0.027; anterior-posterior sway range, P = 0.014). Clinical measures of balance and function showed non-significant trends in favor of TC.
TC training offered through existing community-based programs is a safe, feasible, and promising intervention for reducing multiple fracture risks. Our results affirm the value of a more definitive, longer-term trial of TC for osteopenic women, adequately powered to detect clinically relevant effects of TC on attenuation of BMD loss and reduction of fall risk in this population.
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 01/2012; 12(Suppl 1):7. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-12-7 · 2.02 Impact Factor
"RCTs on TC's effects on falling in OA patients have been published   (Table 1). These studies reported that TC decreased fear of falling in OA patients compared to selfhelp education control  and no treatment control . On the other hand, the study  also showed no impact due to TC on disability and fall efficacy. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition characterized by degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint. With no cure currently available, the goals of treating OA are to alleviate pain, maintain, or improve joint mobility, increase the muscle strength of the joints, and minimize the disabling effects of the disease. Recent research has suggested that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) exercises may improve OA symptoms. This paper covers CAM mind-body exercises-Tai Chi, qigong, and yoga-for OA management and evaluates their benefits in pain reduction, muscle strength, physical function, stiffness, balance, fear of falling, self-efficacy, quality of life, and psychological outcomes in patients with OA, based on randomized controlled trials published. Findings from the literature suggest that CAM exercises demonstrate considerable promise in the management of OA. Future studies require rigorous randomized controlled trials with larger sample sizes.
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