Tai Chi Reduces Fracture Risks in Post-menopausal Osteopenic Women
February 26, 2012 -
This is a study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital
of Harvard Medical School.
(TC) is a mind-body exercise that shows potential as an effective and safe
intervention for preventing fall-related fractures in the elderly. Few
randomized trials have simultaneously evaluated TC's potential to reduce bone
loss and improve fall-predictive balance parameters in osteopenic women.
In a pragmatic randomized trial, 86 post-menopausal osteopenic women, aged
45-70, were recruited from community clinics. Women were assigned to either nine
months of TC training plus usual care (UC) vs. UC alone. Primary outcomes were
changes between baseline and nine months of bone mineral density (BMD) of the
proximal femur and lumbar spine (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and serum
markers of bone resorption and formation. Secondary outcomes included quality of
life. In a subsample (n=16), quiet standing fall-predictive sway parameters and
clinical balance tests was also assessed. Both intent-to-treat and per-protocol
For BMD, no intent-to-treat analyses were statistically significant; however,
per protocol analyses (i.e., only including TC participants who completed
[greater than or equal to] 75% training requirements) of femoral neck BMD
changes were significantly different between TC and UC. Changes in bone
formation markers and physical domains of quality of life were also more
favorable in per protocol TC vs. UC. Changes in sway parameters were
significantly improved by TC vs. UC. Clinical measures of balance and function
showed statistically non-significant trends in favor of TC.
TC training offered through existing community-based programs is a safe,
feasible, and promising intervention for reducing multiple fracture risks. Our
results affirm the value of a more definitive, longer-term trial of TC for
osteopenic women, adequately powered to detect clinically relevant effects of TC
on attenuation of BMD loss and reduction of fall risk in this population.
This study is published in the January 2012 issue of BMC
Complementary and Alternative Medicine.