Does Tai Chi improve balance and reduce falls incidence in neurological disorders? A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the effect of Tai Chi on balance and reducing falls incidence in neurological disorders.

Data sources:

AMED, Embase, Web of Science, SCOPUS, EBSCO and Medline from inception until February 2018.

Review method:

Randomized controlled trials of Tai Chi compared with active or no treatment control, measuring balance with the Berg Balance Scale or the Timed Up and Go Test and number of falls in neurological disorders were included. Methodological quality was assessed using PEDro and quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) system.

Results:

A total of 10 studies involving 720 participants were reviewed. Seven studies were in Parkinson’s disease and three in stroke. Seven studies were of high methodological quality and three were low. Meta-analyses of balance measured with the Timed Up and Go Test in Parkinson’s disease revealed a statistically significant effect of Tai Chi compared to no treatment (weighted mean difference (WMD), –2.13; 95% confidence interval (CI), −3.26 to −1.00; P < 0.001) and was insignificant (WMD, −0.19; 95% CI, −1.74 to 1.35; P = 0.81) when compared with active treatment. Tai Chi significantly reduced falls incidence in Parkinson’s disease (odds ratio (OR), 0.47; 95% CI, 0.29 to 0.77; P = 0.003) and stroke (OR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.48; P < 0.001). Balance measured with the Timed Up and Go Test comparing Tai Chi and active treatment was insignificant (WMD, 0.45; 95% CI, –3.43 to 2.54; P = 0.77) in stroke.

Conclusion:

Tai Chi is effective in reducing falls incidence in Parkinson’s disease and stroke. This systematic review did not find high-quality studies among other neurological disorders.

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