Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Research article review: Tai Chi

Article:  Yeh GY, McCarthy EP, Wayne PM, et al.. Tai chi exercise in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized controlled trial.. Archives of Internal Medicine.. 
; ;171(8):750–757..

For a short snyopsis, see the NIH Research Spotlight post from 2011, "Tai Chi May Benefit People with Heart Failure".

Traditional Chinese Medicine has five basic aspects:
TCM Nutrition/Dietary therapy
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Movement/Meditation (Tai Chi and Qi Gong)
Bodywork (Tuina, DieDa)

Tai Chi for health benefits has been around a long time.  It is great studies are being designed to see how Tai Chi movement therapy complements ongoing conventional care.  In this 2011 study, funded partially by NCCIH (formally NCCAM of National Institute of Health-NIH), studied 100 people diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.  These people were divided into 2 groups:
1.  Tai Chi group which met 2x/week for 12 weeks for an hourly Tai Chi class and
2.  education group (the control group) which had lecture classes for 2 hours/week for 12 weeks.

The following aspects were measured in both groups:
exercise capacity
quality of life
physical activity

The results:  Tai Chi group show clinically significant improvements over the control group in the following:  mood, increase in daily activity.  There is also a note that quality of life improved.

More questions from Megan
I wonder if they were able to check back in with these same Tai Chi group patients in 6 months and 12 months post-class and check the following:
are they still practicing Tai Chi?  how often?
If so, will the researchers look at their measurement factors again and see if there is any change?
Have their risk factors for a cardiovascular event changed (for improved health, we want to see risk factors decrease)?

Balance and proprioception (where your body is in space):  Generally, Tai Chi is often prescribed to people with balance issues to help decrease their risk of falling.  Injuries from falling can be significant quality of life-change events.  However, this study did not look at or measure factors related to balance or proprioception.   

Breathing, stress factors, sleep factors, and the HeartMath connection:
Tai Chi is intentional movement with breath and breathing is an important factor.  There is more literature lately that discusses intention and mindfulness and how that affects stress and sleep.  I see this lately with the HearthMath work and Jon Kabat Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction hospital courses.
I would like what HeartMath and MBSR have learned about study design and measurement factors.  And then, see how these ideas on outcome measures play out when applied to studies of Tai Chi for health improvement.

For related reading:

related blogposts:


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