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A Simplified Tai Chi Program to Improve Motor Performance for People with Dementia

July 24, 2018 - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Curtin University in Perth, Australia worked together to evaluate the feasibility and preliminary effects of a simplified 10-step Tai Chi program to improve the motor performance of people with dementia.

Twenty-six pairs of people with dementia and their family caregivers were recruited. The patients' age ranged from 74 to 90 while those of the caregivers ranged from 32 to 70. The experimental group underwent a 16?week 10-step simplified Tai Chi training program, with additional measures to enhance engagement. The control group joined recreational activities organized by the community centers.

The feasibility assessment included recruitment, attrition, adherence to, and engagement in the Tai Chi program. The preliminary effects were assessed by the participants' performance in mobility tests.

Preliminary feasibility was established, with an acceptable recruitment rate of 58% (26 out of 45 assessed pairs) and a high attendance rate of 81% (25.88 out of 32 Tai Chi sessions). There was positive engagement in the training sessions, and no adverse incidents. However, five participants withdrew from the Tai Chi group, for a high attrition rate of 38%, and the mean home practice time decreased between weeks 8 and 16. In most of the motor performance tests, a slight but insignificant improvement was observed in the Tai Chi group compared to the control group.

A tailored Tai Chi program for people with dementia using a paired approach has been found to be feasible. However, stronger support must be provided to family caregivers to improve the participants' sustained participation. These findings are published in the July, 2018 issue of Clinical rehabilitation.

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