This study set out to investigate whether Tai Chi could improve standing balance in subjects with chronic stroke. One hundred thirty-six subjects >6 months after stroke were randomly assigned to a control group practicing general exercises or a Tai Chi group for 12 weeks of training. A blinded assessor examined subjects at baseline, 6 weeks (mid-program), 12 weeks (end-program), and 18 weeks (follow-up). The 3 outcome measures were (1) dynamic standing balance evaluated by the center of gravity (COG) excursion during self-initiated body leaning in 4 directions, (2) standing equilibrium evaluated in sensory challenged conditions, and (3) functional mobility assessed by Timed-up-and-go score. When compared with the controls, the Tai Chi group showed greater COG excursion amplitude in leaning forward, backward, and toward the affected and nonaffected sides, as well as faster reaction time in moving the COG toward the nonaffected side in the end-program and follow-up assessments. The Tai Chi group also demonstrated better reliance on vestibular integration for balance control at end-program. However, neither group improved significantly in Timed-up-and-go scores.
Twelve weeks of short-form Tai Chi produced specific standing balance improvements in people with chronic stroke that outlasted training for 6 weeks.
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 23(5), 515-522