Tai Chi Chuan in the management of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease

Med Sport Sci. 2008;52:173-181. doi: 10.1159/000134298.


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (ALZ) represent later-life onset neurodegenerative disorders that gradually rob those afflicted of their quality of life.

Purpose: This chapter offers practice-based recommendations on how instruction and practice of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) can be adapted for individuals with PD and those with ALZ. RESEARCH EVIDENCE: Practice of TCC is widely advocated as an exercise option in PD; however, little validating research exists. Even less is known about feasibility of applications of TCC for individuals with ALZ. CLINICAL IMPRESSIONS: The slow, rhythmic pace of functionally based exercises, internal organ stimulation, flexibility maintenance, balance-training effects, and general health benefits of TCC and Tai Chi-like exercise practice have clinical relevance for both conditions. Falls prevention, tremor reduction and motor control may be of most importance in management of PD. Behavioral and general health benefits as well as slowing of functional and cognitive decline are considerations with ALZ.

Recommendations: Strategies of exercise adaptation include use of Tai Chi-like exercise for individuals with ALZ and those in middle or late stages of PD as well as providing instructional resources and training for caregivers and exercise aides to facilitate practice as a part of daily life.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Tai Ji / methods*