Effects of traditional Chinese exercises on the rehabilitation of limb function among stroke patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Nov;29:35-47. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.08.005. Epub 2017 Aug 26.


Objective: To systematically review literature about the rehabilitative effects of traditional Chinese exercises (TCEs) on limb function among patients with stroke.

Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Twelve electronic databases were searched from their inceptions to February 2017, including PudMed, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, EMBase, Science Direct, PsycINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Allied and Complementary Medicine, Chinese Scientific Journal Database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database and WanFang Data. RCTs were located to examine the rehabilitative effects of TCEs on limb function among stroke patients. Two authors independently screened the literature, extracted data and assessed the risk bias of the included studies. Methodological quality evaluation and meta-analysis of included studies was performed by using Cochrane Collaboration's tool (RevMan 5.3).

Results: A total of 31 RCTs with 2349 participants were included. Results of meta-analysis showed that TCEs produced positive effects on limb motor function (random effects model, standardized mean difference [SMD] = 1.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.66 to 1.77, P < 0.01), balance function{Berg balance scale: (random effects model, SMD = 2.07, 95%CI = 1.52 to 2.62, P < 0.01), timed-up-and-go test: (fixed effects model, mean difference [MD] = -1.77, 95%CI = -2.87 to -0.67, P < 0.01)}, activities of daily living (ADL) ability {Barthel Index scale: (random effects model, MD = 15.60, 95%CI = 7.57 to 23.63, P < 0.01), Modified Barthel Index scale: (random effects model, MD = 12.30, 95%CI = 7.48 to 17.12, P < 0.01)}, and neurological impairment (fixed effects model, MD = -2.57, 95%CI = -3.14 to -2.00, P < 0.01). After subgroup analysis and sensitivity analysis, the positive effects did not be affected by different types of TCEs and different lengths of intervention time. However, TCEs were no benefit to physical function on Short Physical Performance Battery and 2-min Step Test among stroke patients.

Conclusion: Current evidence showed that TCEs produced positive effects on limb motor function, balance function, ADL ability and neurological impairment among stroke patients. More large-scale, high-quality, multiple center RCTs are required to further verify above conclusions in the future.

Keywords: Limb function; Meta-analysis; Randomized controlled trial; Stroke; Systematic review; Traditional Chinese exercises.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Exercise Movement Techniques*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance
  • Qigong
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Tai Ji