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  • Author: Junheng Xu x
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Fuzhong Li, Peter Harmer, K. John Fisher, Junheng Xu, Kathleen Fitzgerald and Naruepon Vongjaturapat

The primary objective of this study was to provide preliminary evaluation of the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of a newly developed Tai Chi-based exercise program for older adults with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Using a one-group pretest-posttest design, 17 community-dwelling adults (mean age 71.51 years) with mild to moderate idiopathic PD (Stage I, II, or III on the Hoehn and Yahr scale) and stable medication use completed a 5-day, 90-min/day Tai Chi exercise-evaluation program. Outcome measures included face-to-face exit interviews on appropriateness and safety and physical performance (i.e., 50-ft speed walk, up-and-go, functional reach). At the end of this brief intervention, exercise adherence was 100% and the program was shown to be safe. Exit interviews indicated that the program was well received by all participants with respect to program appropriateness, participant satisfaction and enjoyment, and intentions to continue. Furthermore, a significant pretest-to-posttest change was observed at the end of the 5-day program in all three physical-performance measures (p < .05). The results of this pilot evaluation suggest that Tai Chi is an appropriate physical activity for older adults with PD and might also be useful as a therapeutic exercise modality for improving and maintaining physical function. These preliminary findings warrant further investigation.

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Fuzhong Li, Peter Harmer, Karin A. Mack, David Sleet, K. John Fisher, Melvin A. Kohn, Lisa M. Millet, Junheng Xu, Tingzhong Yang, Beth Sutton and Yvaughn Tompkins

Background:

This study was designed to develop an evidence- and community-based falls prevention program—Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance.

Methods:

A mixed qualitative and quantitative approach was used to develop a package of materials for program implementation and evaluation. The developmental work was conducted in 2 communities in the Pacific Northwest. Participants included a panel of experts, senior service program managers or activity coordinators, and older adults. Outcome measures involved program feasibility and satisfaction.

Results:

Through an iterative process, a program package was developed. The package contained an implementation plan and class training materials (ie, instructor’s manual, videotape, and user’s guidebook). Pilot testing of program materials showed that the content was appropriate for the targeted users (community-living older adults) and providers (local senior service organizations). A feasibility survey indicated interest and support from users and providers for program implementation. A 2-week pilot evaluation showed that the program implementation was feasible and evidenced good class attendance, high participant satisfaction, and interest in continuing Tai Chi.

Conclusions:

The package of materials developed in this study provides a solid foundation for larger scale implementation and evaluation of the program in community settings.