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.