Efficacy of supervised Tai Chi exercises versus conventional physical therapy exercises in fall prevention for frail older adults: a randomized controlled trial

Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Aug;35(17):1429-35. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.737084. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Abstract

Purpose: To compare the effectiveness of supervised Tai Chi exercises versus the conventional physical therapy exercises in a personalized rehabilitation program in terms of the incidence and severity of falls in a frail older population.

Method: The participants were frail older adults living in the community, admitted to the day hospital program in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada (n = 152). They were randomized to receive a 15-week intervention, either by supervised Tai Chi exercises (n = 76) or conventional physical therapy (n = 76). Fall incidence and severity were assessed using both the calendar technique and phone interviews once a month during 12 months following the end of the intervention. Other variables were collected at baseline to compare the two groups: age, comorbidity, balance, sensory interaction on balance, and self-rated health.

Results: Both interventions demonstrated a protective effect on falls but Tai Chi showed a greater one (RR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.56-0.98) as compared to conventional physical therapy exercises.

Conclusions: Supervised Tai Chi exercises as part of a rehabilitation program seem to be a more effective alternative to the conventional physical therapy exercises for this specific population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance
  • Program Evaluation
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome