Findings from a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicate that practising tai chi may help to prevent falls in older patients.
For the study, scientists from the University of Jaén in Spain analysed data from 10 randomised controlled trials which looked at the effect of tai chi versus other treatments such as physical therapy and low intensity exercise on risk of falls in at-risk and older adults. The length of the interventions ranged from 12 to 26 weeks. The frequency of the 1-hour sessions ranged from one to three times per week.
The authors identified high-quality evidence that tai chi reduced the rate of falls by 43 per cent compared with other interventions at short-term follow-up and by 13 per cent at long-term follow-up (more than 12 months). There was also low-quality evidence that tai chi reduced the risk of injurious falls by 50 per cent over the short term and by 28 per cent over the long term.
Author, Dr. Rafael Lomas-Vega cautioned however that “due to the small number of published studies, further research is needed to investigate the effect of tai chi on injurious falls and time to first fall”.