This week, there are two studies I would like to review that used Dr. Paul Lam's Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA). Dr. Lam developed his TCA program in the 1990s and it is now being taught all over the world.
The first study was the largest fall prevention study in the world. It involved 702 people from Australia, with a minimum age of 60 and an average of 69. The majority of the participants were taught TCA. Baseline tests were made and results were measured after a 16-week class that met once a week. Additional results were measured after 24 weeks.
RESULTS: Falls were less frequent in the tai chi group than in the control group. The hazard ratio of time to first fall was 0.67 (P=0.02) after 24 weeks. There were statistically significant differences in changes in balance favoring the tai chi group on five of six balance tests.
CONCLUSION: Participation in once per week tai chi classes for 16 weeks can prevent falls in relatively healthy community-dwelling older people.
For those that want to read the original, see A Randomized, Controlled Trial of tai chi for the Prevention of Falls: The Central Sydney tai chi Trial, Journal of American Geriatric Society: 55.1185-1191, August 2007. The abstract is available free.
The second study was from Korea. This study looked at the effect of Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) on arthritis pain. Baseline tests were made and results were measured after 12 weeks.
RESULTS: The tai chi group had 35% less pain, 29% less stiffness, 29% more ability to perform daily tasks (like climbing stairs), as well as improved balance and abdominal muscle strength.
CONCLUSION: Older women with osteoarthritis were able to safely perform the base level of TCA and this was effective in improve their symptoms of arthritis, balance, and physical functioning.
For those that want to read the original, see Effects of tai chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial, J Rheumatol September 2003 30(9):2039-2044. The abstract is available free.
© 2011 Eric Borreson