Using computerized posturography to explore the connection between bmi and postural stability in long-term tai chi practitioners - biomed 2011

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2011;47:288-93.


Obesity is a major health concern because of its linkage to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Another less studied outcome is the observed increase in the incidence of accidental falls. According to CDC, medical costs associated with fall injuries exceeded $16 billion in 2000 and by 2020 will exceed $54 billion. To reduce the impact on society and individuals, it is essential to explore mechanisms to reduce the frequency of falls. For example, a short 12-week intervention of Tai Chi reduced the risk of accidental falls in an elderly population. However, there are few studies exploring the effect of the long-term practice of Tai Chi on postural stability, particularly in individuals with a BMI greater than 30. In this study, the connection between postural stability and BMI in long-term Tai Chi practitioners is investigated using a convenience sample study design. Participants at a 1-week Tai Chi workshop held in June of 2010 were contacted and forty-four individuals attending the workshop enrolled in the study (ranging in age from 22 to 84, mean age 61). The participants’ weight distribution was similar to the general population with 38% having a BMI less than 25. Comparison between the normal and obese groups indicated that there were no differences in stability scores in the most challenging category: standing on a compliant surface with eyes closed. Additional studies are needed to determine whether Tai Chi is as an effective intervention to prevent falls in the obese population.