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Effects of Tai Chi on a Functional Arm Reaching Task in Older Adults
July 15, 2014 -
A recent study by University of Illinois at Chicago quantified the effect of aging and the long-term practice of Tai Chi on upper limb movement control, indicated by performance-outcome (temporal) and performance-production (amplitude) measures, on a multi-planar, stand-reaching (i.e. functional) task.

Twelve Tai Chi practitioners, 11 age-matched, older non-practitioners and 12 young subjects performed cued, flexion- and abduction-reaching tasks using a custom set-up. Surface-EMG and acceleration data sampled from wireless sensors rendered performance-outcome (reaction time, burst duration, time-to-peak and movement time) and performance-production (normalized EMG amplitude and peak acceleration) measures.

Young subjects and Tai Chi practitioners demonstrated better performance-outcome and performance-production than older non-practitioners. Relative-effect computations (i.e. the effect of Tai Chi expressed as a percentage of the effect of aging) showed that Tai Chi practitioners exhibited approximately 20-60% (flexion) and 20-100% (abduction) improvement in reaching task performance compared to older non-practitioners. 

In conclusion, Tai Chi practitioners displayed better arm movement control than older non-practitioners on a relatively challenging and functional stand-reaching task.

This study is published by Journal of aging and physical activity in July, 2014.




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