Effect of Tai Chi Exercise Combined with Mental Imagery Theory in Improving Balance in a Diabetic and Elderly Population.

Alsubiheen A, et al. Med Sci Monit. 2015.

Sifu Harvey Kurland was the Lead t'ai chi ch'uan instructor for this study and was assisted by Myra Allen. The Symmetrical Yang Style form was taught to all participants similar to our regular classes. Testing was done by a team of Physical Therapists. All participants showed a significant improvement in balance after 8 weeks of training the Tchoung-Yang Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form. Interview with The Chief Researcher showed between a 200% to 300% improvement in balance. Of interest is that the post test was stopped after a set time so improvement may have been much better but total post test was stopped at a predetermined time. Abstract

BACKGROUND: One of the effects of diabetes mellitus (DM), peripheral neuropathy, affects the sensation in the feet and can increase the chance of falling. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of 8 weeks of Tai Chi (TC) training combined with mental imagery (MI) on improving balance in people with diabetes and an age matched control group.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Seventeen healthy subjects and 12 diabetic sedentary subjects ranging from 40-80 years of age were recruited. All subjects in both groups attended a Yang style of TC class using MI strategies, 2 sessions a week for 8 weeks. Each session was one hour long. Measures were taken using a balance platform test, an Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale, a one leg standing test (OLS), functional reach test (FRT) and hemoglobin A1C. These measures were taken twice, pre and post-study, for both groups.

RESULTS: Both groups experienced significant improvements in ABC, OLS, FRT (P<0.01) after completing 8 weeks of TC exercise with no significant improvement between groups. Subjects using the balance platform test demonstrated improvement in balance in all different tasks with no significant change between groups. There was no significant change in HbA1C for the diabetic group.

CONCLUSIONS: All results showed an improvement in balance in the diabetic and the control groups; however, no significant difference between the groups was observed. Since the DM group had more problems with balance impairment at baseline than the control, the diabetic group showed the most benefit from the TC exercise.

Longer version of the article is found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26454826/