Background: As the second commonest cause of death and a major cause of disability worldwide, stroke has greatly influenced patients' quality of life and created a huge public health burden. As a special form of physical activity that has been widely practiced in China, and even throughout the world, Tai Chi may be favorable for the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Several studies have been conducted to investigate the rehabilitative effects of Tai Chi for stroke patients, but none of them have been focused on the recovery phase (2 to 24 weeks) of stroke.
Methods/design: This study is an assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial. A total of 50 eligible participants will be randomly assigned to either a control group or a Tai Chi group. Patients in the control group will receive standard, conventional rehabilitation therapies, and a combination of Tai Chi and conventional rehabilitation programs will be applied in the Tai Chi group. The recovery of motor impairment, functional activity and balance abilities as measured with the Fugl-Meyer Assessment, Barthel Index and Berg Balance Scale will be assessed as primary outcome measures. The secondary outcome measures to be used are the scores on the Stroke-Specific Quality of Life Scale, the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale and the objective parameters of the RSscan footscan gait system. All assessments will be conducted at baseline, 4 weeks after the rehabilitation course and at the end of 3-month follow-up.
Discussion: The results of this study will provide preliminary evidence regarding the efficacy and feasibility of Tai Chi as an additional rehabilitative program for stroke patients in the recovery phase.
Trial registration: Chinese Clinical Trial Register ID: ChiCTR-TRC-13003661 (7 October 2013).