WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A 12-week Yang-style Tai Chi (TC) intervention decreases fall rates among stroke survivors, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference, held from Feb. 5 to 8 in Honolulu.
Ruth Taylor-Piliae, Ph.D., R.N., from University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues randomized stroke survivors, aged 50 years or older and at least three months post-stroke, to TC (30 participants), the SilverSneakers fitness program (SS; 31 participants), or usual care (UC; 28 participants). The TC and SS groups attended a one-hour class three times per week for 12 weeks. Written materials for participating in community-based physical activity and weekly phone calls were received by the UC group. Falls were ascertained through weekly interviews with all subjects.
The researchers found that the subjects (average age 70 ± 10 years) reported 34 falls over the 12-week trial. All falls happened at home, with four subjects seeking medical attention for the fall. Five falls occurred in the TC group, 14 in the SS group, and 15 in the UC group. Slipping or tripping accounted for 21 percent of falls. Participants in the TC group had significantly fewer falls than UC (P = 0.04); however, no significant difference was observed between TC and SS (P = 0.11) or SS and UC (P = 0.59) groups.
"Learning how to find and maintain your balance after a stroke is a challenge," Taylor-Piliae said in a statement. "Tai Chi is effective in improving both static and dynamic balance, which is important to prevent falls."