Tai Chi Intervention Improves Dynamic Postural Control During Gait Initiation in Older Adults: A Pilot Study

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Srikant Vallabhajosula Elon University

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Beverly L. Roberts University of Florida

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Chris J. Hass University of Florida

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Tai Chi intervention has been shown to be beneficial for balance improvement. The current study examined the effectiveness of Tai Chi to improve the dynamic postural control among older adults with mobility disability. Six sedentary older adults with mobility disability participated in a 16-week Tai Chi intervention consisting of one hour sessions three times a week. Dynamic postural control was assessed pre- and post intervention as participants initiated gait in four stepping conditions: forward; 45° medially, with the stepping leg crossing over the other leg; 45° and 90° laterally. The center of pressure (CoP) displacement, velocity, and its maximum separation distance from the center of mass in the anteroposterior, mediolateral, and resultant directions were analyzed. Results showed that in the postural phase, Tai Chi increased the CoP mediolateral excursions in the medial (13%) and forward (28%) conditions, and resultant CoP center of mass distance in the medial (9%) and forward (19%) conditions. In the locomotion phase, the CoP mediolateral displacement and velocity significantly increased after the Tai Chi intervention (both by > 100% in the two lateral conditions). These results suggest that through alteration in CoP movement characteristics, Tai Chi intervention might improve the dynamic postural control during gait initiation among older adults.

Srikant Vallabhajosula is with the Department of Physical Therapy Education, Elon University, Elon, NC. Beverly L. Roberts is with the Department of Adult and Elderly Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Chris J. Hass is with the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Address author correspondence to Srikant Vallabhajosula at svallabhajosula@elon.edu.

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