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Tai Chi for Upper Limb Rehabilitation in Stroke Patients

July 25, 2016 - A Canadian study, published in June 2016 issue of Disability and rehabilitation, aimed at exploring the perceived benefits and drawbacks of practicing Tai Chi, an alternative therapy that can be implemented in the community, as part of upper-limb rehabilitation following stroke.

Semi-structured interviews were carried out with participants with chronic stroke (over 6 months). The participants took part in 16 Tai Chi sessions over 8 weeks. Interviews were conducted in person using an interview guide based on the theory of planned behavior (TPB), and a thematic analysis was conducted.

Eight interviews were carried out with participants at various stages of motor recovery. Participants perceived a number of physical, functional, and psychological benefits. They found Tai Chi to be a global exercise, including both physical and mental aspects, and suggested that it can be included as part of rehabilitation for stroke patients. Many participants expressed a desire to continue practicing Tai Chi after completion of the study because it exceeded their expectations, among other reasons.

This study can serve to guide future Tai Chi interventions and research on Tai Chi for rehabilitation in terms of the characteristics of the intervention and the various areas to assess in order to measure the overall benefits.

IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: Tai Chi was perceived as a good way of integrating various skills learned during rehabilitation. Despite having different functional abilities, all the participants noted various physical, functional, and psychological benefits from participating in the tai chi sessions. Tai Chi seems to be a form of exercise that stroke patients would perform more long-term since all the participants in this study expressed the desire to continue practicing Tai Chi.

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