A new study has found that stroke survivors who practiced a seated form of Tai Chi had equal or greater improvement in hand and arm strength, shoulder range of motion, balance control, symptoms of depression and activities of daily living after three months, compared to those who participated in a standard stroke rehabilitation exercise program. Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese martial art, consists of a series of slow, careful movements of the hands, arms, neck, legs and core combined with deep breathing. Many survivors opted out of rehabilitation therapy because they lack physical stability or are unable to fully use their arms. Tai Chi has a long history as a form of exercise in China. Sixty-nine people in the sitting Tai Chi group and 65 people in the control group completed the 12-week program and 4-week follow-up.
Those in the sitting Tai Chi group had better hand and arm function and sitting balance control compared to those in the standard stroke rehabilitation group. The participants in the sitting Tai Chi group had significant reductions in symptoms of depression, and better shoulder range of motion and showed significant improvements in activities of daily living and quality of life compared with the control group. More than half the people in the Tai Chi group continued to practice after the 12-week intervention. Improvement in these measures continued during the 4-week follow-up period for the Tai Chi group.

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