Parkinson’s: Tai Chi helps improve balance

The discovery was made in the United States: this famous martial art could help patients to regain some balance and improve the uncertain pace typical of these people. With results that according to the researchers are long-lasting, but not permanent.

09 FEB – It is not the action of a drug or a clinical therapy, but a sport, the last activity that has been shown to help Parkinson’s patients. Or rather, a martial art: Tai Chi. The slow and controlled movements of this discipline seem to improve the stability and balance of patients suffering from the disease. To say it is a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the study, conducted by the Oregon Research Institute of Eugene in the United States, the improvements would last for up to three months, after the activity.

“Tai Chi seems to benefit these people a lot,” said Fuzhong Li, first author of the research. “In comparison to those who only do stretching exercises, those who practice this martial art are less falling, as well as having a safer gait and longer steps”. Poor balance, both in standing and walking, is in fact one of the hallmarks of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

“They clearly don’t eliminate the symptoms of the disease,” Li said. “It’s not a drug, it doesn’t cure the disease. But it can probably help slow the progress of the disease.”

To prove the research, the US scientists considered 195 elderly people with Parkinson’s, all from the state of Oregon. Of these, a third was enrolled in a martial arts course, a third practiced stretching exercises and the last third muscle resistance exercises. The ability to lean forward or move before losing balance was measured on a scale of 0 to one hundred, and all participants at the start of the trial had a value greater than 64.

The entire group sent to Tai Chi school demonstrated, after taking an hour of this discipline twice a week for 24 weeks, that they could stand without help, although some still needed a walker to be able to move. On average, the points earned on the balance scale were 10, compared to 4 in the group that practiced resistance exercises. Patients who underwent stretching sessions at the end of the experiment had two-point decreased balance values.

Clearly these results were reduced after the end of the trial, however after a few months from the lessons the patients still reported some benefits: the number of falls, for example, which during the training period was even halved compared to the two control groups, continued to remain better in percentages that varied between 60 and 70 percent compared to these in the following three months.

“It’s the first time a balance treatment has been shown to have lasting results,” Li said. “And what’s even better is that Tai Chi is also an economic activity, which does not require special tools and which can be practiced anywhere and at any time.”

Taken from: Quotidiano Sanità.it

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