Study finds Tai Chi helps people with Parkinson’s

Study finds Tai Chi helps people with Parkinson’s

The Chinese exercise of Tai Chi improved balance and lowered the risk of falls in a study of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of the brain disorder include tremors and stiff, jerky movements that can affect walking and other activities.  Medications and surgery can help, and doctors often recommend exercise or physical therapy.

Tai Chi, with it’s slow, graceful movements, has been shown to improve strength and aid stability in older people, and has been studied for a number of ailments.  In the latest study, led by Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Tai Chi was tested in 195 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s.

The participants attended twice-weekly group classes of either Tai Chi or two other kinds of exercise– stretching and resistance training, which included steps and lunges with ankle weights and a weighted vest.

After six months of classes, the Tai Chi group did significantly better than the stretching group in tests of balance, control, walking and other measures.  Compared with resistance training, the Tai Chi group did better in balance, control and stride, and about the same in other tests.

The findings are in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study was paid for by the the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Associate Press