Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of Tai Chi exercise on glucose control, neuropathy scores, balance, and quality of life in patients with type 2 diabetes and neuropathy.
Methods: A pretest-posttest design with a nonequivalent control group was utilized to recruit 59 diabetic patients with neuropathy from an outpatient clinic of a university hospital. A standardized Tai Chi for diabetes program was provided, which comprised 1 hour of Tai Chi per session, twice a week for 12 weeks. Outcome variables were fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin for glucose control, the Semmes-Weinstein 10-g monofilament examination scores and total symptom scores for neuropathy, single leg stance for balance, and the Korean version of the SF-36v2 for quality of life. Thirty-nine patients completed the posttest measures after the 12-week Tai Chi intervention, giving a 34% dropout rate.
Results: The mean age of the participants was 64 years, and they had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for more than 12 years. The status was significantly better for the participants in the Tai Chi group (n=20) than for their control (i.e., nonintervention) counterparts (n=19) in terms of total symptom scores, glucose control, balance, and quality of life.
Conclusion: Tai Chi improved glucose control, balance, neuropathic symptoms, and some dimensions of quality of life in diabetic patients with neuropathy. Further studies with larger samples and long-term follow-up are needed to confirm the effects of Tai Chi on the management of diabetic neuropathy, which may have an impact on fall prevention in this population.