Objective: The purpose of this review was to objectively evaluate the effects of Baduanjin exercise on rehabilitative outcomes in stroke patients. Methods: Both Chinese and English electronic databases were searched for potentially relevant trials. Two review authors independently screened eligible trials against the inclusion criteria, extracted data, and assessed the methodological quality by using the revised PEDro scale. Meta-analysis was only performed for balance function. Results: In total, there were eight randomized controlled trials selected in this systematic review. The aggregated result of four trials has shown a significant benefit in favor of Baduanjin on balance function (Hedges' g = 2.39, 95% CI 2.14 to 2.65, p < 0.001, I² = 61.54). Additionally, Baduanjin exercise effectively improved sensorimotor function of lower extremities and ability of daily activities as well as reduced depressive level, leading to improved quality of life. Conclusion: Baduanjin exercise as an adjunctive and safe method may be conducive to help stroke patients achieve the best possible short-term outcome and should be integrated with mainstream rehabilitation programs. More rigorous randomized controlled trials with long-term intervention periods among a large sample size of stroke patients are needed to draw a firm conclusion regarding the rehabilitative effects for this population.
Keywords: Baduanjin; balance function; mind-body exercise; rehabilitation; stroke.