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Tai Chi Helps Maintaining Cognitive Abilities

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August 15, 2014 -
A few days ago, the sudden death of the famous movie star Robin Williams shocked the public. It was later revealed that Robin Williams was at the early stage of Parkinson's disease, which worsened his depression.

His death brought Parkinson's disease back to the spotlight. There have been scientific evidences showing Tai Chi can be beneficial to the patients with this disease. A new Chinese study published in the July 2014 issue of an American journal, Public Library of Science One, once again showed the efficacy of Tai Chi for this disease.

In this study, 6 English and Chinese electronic databases, up to April 2014, were searched to identify relevant studies. The risk of bias in eligible studies was assessed by Cochrane Collaboration's tools. The primary outcomes were motor function, balance and gait in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Standardized mean difference (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of random-effect model were calculated. And heterogeneity was assessed based on the I2statistic.

Seven randomized controlled trials and 1 non-randomized controlled trial were eligible. The aggregated results suggested that Tai Chi showed beneficial effects in improving motor function, balance and functional mobility in patients with Parkinson's disease, but not in improving gait velocity, step length, or gait endurance. Comparing with other active therapies, Tai Chi showed better effects in improving balance.

These evidences show that Tai Chi should be a valid complementary and alternative therapy for Parkinson's disease, especially in improving motor function and balance. However, more studies with long follow-up are warrant to confirm the current finding of Tai Chi for Parkinson's disease.

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