Tai Chi for Stroke Rehabilitation: A Focused Review


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Abstract

This focused review summarizes and critically evaluates clinical trial evidence for the effectiveness of Tai Chi as a supportive therapy for stroke rehabilitation. All prospective, controlled clinical trials published in English or Chinese and involving the use of Tai Chi by survivors of stroke were searched in eight electronic databases. Information from the included studies was extracted and synthesized. The methodological quality of all studies was assessed with the Jadad score. Five randomized controlled trials, four in English and one in Chinese, met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. The methodological quality of the trials was moderate (Jadad score, range, 1–4; average score, 2.6). Meta-analysis was not performed because of the heterogeneity of the study conditions and outcome measures. Three studies reported benefits of Tai Chi with respect to improved balance in participants who have had a stroke. Three studies assessed mobility function and reported no improvement after Tai Chi intervention in survivors of stroke. Improvements in quality-of-life and mental health were reported in three trials. This focused review suggests that Tai Chi exercise might be beneficial with respect to balance, quality-of-life, and mental health in survivors of stroke. More rigorous randomized controlled trials are required to determine whether Tai Chi is effective in stroke rehabilitation.

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