Using posturography to measure balance control during seated tai chi

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2014;50:235-41.


Background: Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) is recognized by the CDC as an evidenced-based program to prevent falls in older adults. Although seated Tai Chi is recommended for those unable to stand, little is known about balance control during seated TCA.

Purpose: To explore the use of posturography to assess differences between experts and non-expert practitioners of seated TCA.

Methods: Twenty-three participants were recruited from those attending a Tai cChi workshop. While seated in a hard back chair centered on a force platform, participants performed selected forms from TCA and then did them in a continuous sequence. Center of pressure (CoP) indices to assess balance were normalized by height and then compared between expert and non-expert participants.

Results: Experts had significantly greater average velocity and path length (p = 0.02) for the entire sequence and open/close, but not for CoP 95% Confidence ellipse area. No significant differences in the CoP were found for commencement, wave hands, or single whip.

Conclusions: A few differences in balance control while performing seated TCA movements were found. Future studies are needed to determine whether these can be accounted for by quality of the Tai Chi movements or factors associated with the seated position.