Comparison of telecommunication, community, and home-based Tai Chi exercise programs on compliance and effectiveness in elders at risk for falls

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Jun;91(6):849-56. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2010.01.024.


Objective: To compare the adherence to and effectiveness of Tai Chi exercise program through a live, interactive, telecommunication-based exercise (Tele-ex) with that of a similar program through a community center-based exercise (Comm-ex) and a home video-based exercise (Home-ex) among community-dwelling elders who are at risk for falls.

Design: Three groups randomized controlled trial with pretests and posttests.

Setting: Exercise programs were community-based, and the outcome measures were laboratory-based.

Participants: Adults (N=64) age 65+ years with positive fall history in the previous year and/or significant fear of falling.

Intervention: A 24-form, Yang-style Tai Chi for 15 weeks, 3 hours a week.

Main outcome measures: Exercise compliance, number of falls, fear of falling (Activities-specific Balance Confidence [ABC] score), self-perceived health (Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-36]), Timed Up & Go (TUG), single leg stance (SLS), and body sway during quiet stance (medial-lateral foot center of pressure [ML-COP]).

Results: Tele-ex and Comm-ex groups demonstrated significantly higher exercise attendance and in-class practice time than the Home-ex group (P<.01) and significant reductions in the mean number of falls and injurious falls (P<.01). There were significant improvements posttraining in SLS, ABC, ML-COP, and Physical Health subscore of the SF-36 (P<.05). Both Tele-ex and Comm-ex groups demonstrated larger improvements than the Home-ex group in TUG, ML-COP, and the Social Function, Mental Health, and Physical Health subscores of the MOS SF-36.

Conclusion: Compared with the Home-ex, the Tele-ex and Comm-ex groups are better in exercise compliance, fall reduction and balance and health improvements. Tele-ex is an effective, affordable, and acceptable choice of exercise for elders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Postural Balance
  • Tai Ji*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video Recording*
  • Videoconferencing*