Bournemouth University research has found that Tai Chi brings positive health benefits to older people with dementia.
The TACIT Trial looked at the benefits that Tai Chi can bring for people with dementia, specifically looking at whether Tai Chi could prevent falls and improve quality of live.
Dr Samuel Nyman, a Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, led the study and said, “We were really interested to see if Tai Chi improves balance and prevents falls among people with dementia. This is an important issue because people with dementia are twice as likely to fall, and twice as likely to have injuries as a result of falls.”
The research took a control group, who carried out normal activities, and measured them alongside a group of a similar make up who all undertook a six month Tai Chi programme.
The research, published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that those who had followed a programme of Tai Chi maintained a good quality of life, whereas those in the control group had a decline in life quality over the same period.
Dr Nyman continues, “We found that those who did Tai Chi really enjoyed the classes and meeting up with others who have dementia and their family carers. We found Tai Chi to be an incredibly safe and gentle exercise, and family carers were happy to support their loved ones with the classes and home practice. Although we found no improvements in scores on balance tests, there was a strong trend for those in the Tai Chi group to have fewer falls.”
The study was carried out across the South of England, with Tai Chi sessions in Dorset, Southampton and Portsmouth.
There are plans to continue the research with a larger study that will seek to prove through more data that Tai Chi does prevent falls, specifically in people with dementia. It will also seek to understand how exactly Tai Chi does reduce falls.
Dr Samuel Nyman was funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Career Development Fellowship for this research project, and supported by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, and Solent NHS and several other local organisations. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.
The research paper can be viewed at: https://www.dovepress.com/randomised-controlled-trial-of-the-effect-of-tai-chi-on-postural-balan-peer-reviewed-article-CIA
A video explaining the project can be viewed on YouTube.