Tai chi training may reduce dual task gait variability, a potential mediator of fall risk, in healthy older adults: Cross-sectional and randomized trial studies

Peter M. Wayne, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, Matthew Lough, Brian J. Gow, Lewis Lipsitz, Vera Novak, Eric A. Macklin, Chung Kang Peng, Brad Manor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Tai Chi (TC) exercise improves balance and reduces falls in older, health-impaired adults. TC's impact on dual task (DT) gait parameters predictive of falls, especially in healthy active older adults, however, is unknown. Purpose: To compare differences in usual and DT gait between long-term TC-expert practitioners and age-/gender-matched TC-naive adults, and to determine the effects of short-term TC training on gait in healthy, non-sedentary older adults. Methods: A cross-sectional study compared gait in healthy TC-naive and TC-expert (24.5 ± 12years experience) older adults. TC-naive adults then completed a 6-month, two-arm, wait-list randomized clinical trial of TC training. Gait speed and stride time variability (Coefficient of Variation %) were assessed during 90s trials of undisturbed and cognitive DT (serial subtractions) conditions. Results: During DT, gait speed decreased (p < 0.003) and stride time variability increased (p < 0.004) in all groups. Cross-sectional comparisons indicated that stride time variability was lower in the TC-expert vs. TC-naive group, significantly so during DT (2.11 vs. 2.55%; p = 0.027); by contrast, gait speed during both undisturbed and DT conditions did not differ between groups. Longitudinal analyses of TC-naive adults randomized to 6 months of TC training or usual care identified improvement in DT gait speed in both groups. A small improvement in DT stride time variability (effect size = 0.2) was estimated with TC training, but no significant differences between groups were observed. Potentially important improvements after TC training could not be excluded in this small study. Conclusion: In healthy active older adults, positive effects of short- and long-term TC were observed only under cognitively challenging DT conditions and only for stride time variability. DT stride time variability offers a potentially sensitive metric formonitoring TC’simpact on fall risk with healthy older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number332
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume9
Issue numberJune
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • Dual task performance
  • Falls and fall risk prevention
  • Gait analysis
  • Tai chi

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Tai chi training may reduce dual task gait variability, a potential mediator of fall risk, in healthy older adults: Cross-sectional and randomized trial studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this