Using posturography to assess expertise among tai chi practitioners - biomed 2013

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2013;49:195-200.

Abstract

Tai Chi, performed either seating or standing, is frequently recommended to improve various aspects of health, including balance, metabolic control, heart rate variability, sleep, or immune response. Many studies exploring mind-body interventions, both with self-reported or biologically-measured outcomes, report significant differences in outcomes among participants. However, neither the physiological or psychological mechanisms behind the variations are understood. The purpose of this study was to determine whether posturography is a useful method to assess physical skill level differences between experts and non-expert Tai Chi practitioners. While standing, participants performed a series of movements from the Tai Chi for Arthritis form based on Sun style (commencement, open/close, single whip and wave hands in cloud). Master trainers and senior trainers were considered experts; all others were considered non-experts. Body sway was assessed by the CAPS™ Professional portable computerized force platform (Vestibular Technologies, LLC.). Center of Pressure motion measures were normalized by the subject's height. While standing, the experts displayed statistically greater displacement excursion and velocity when preforming commencement and wave hands in clouds forms. The results of this pilot study indicated that posturography may be a useful method to assess the quality of Tai Chi movements and potentially link the expertise of Tai Chi practitioners to changes in health related outcomes.