Effect of a 6-week Ai Chi program on balance and gait in individuals with Parkinson’s disease: A pilot study

Chun Lung So (Corresponding Author), Hon Ting Tse, Man Ying Kwok

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background and purpose: Parkinson’s Disease (PD) has impacts on an individual’s
balance, and Ai Chi can be used to improve balance and gait performance. The aim of
this study was to investigate the effectiveness of Ai Chi in improving the balance and
gai t of individuals with idiopathic PD.
Method: Ten individuals with PD at Hoehn & Yahr stages 1-3 were included in this 6-
week study. Participants underwent a structured Ai Chi program (1 hour per session,
twice weekly) for 6 weeks (12 sessions in total). Balance was assessed at baseline
and week 6 using the Timed Up and Go test (TUG), the Five Times Sit-to-Stand test
(FTSTS), the Four Square Step Test (FSST), the Ten Meter walk Test (10MWT), and
the Sensory Organization Test (SOT). Gait parameters were measured by inertial
measurement units (IMUs) and videotaping for 2D motion analysis. Surface
electromyography (sEMG) was used for measuring muscle activity during gait in the
bilateral rectus femoris, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius, and tibialis anterior.
Results: In a pre- and post-intervention comparison, significant improvements were
observed in the FTSTS, FSST, and TUG as well as in the composite, vision, and
vestibular scores in the 10MWT and SOT (pimprovement in balance. As for the gait analysis, no significant differences were
observed in spatiotemporal parameters, including speed, cadence, step length, stride
length, step duration, stride duration, swing phase duration, stance phase duration,
and double support duration. Insignificant changes in the percentage maximum
voluntary contraction of all the muscles examined were found, while significant
decrease in maximum voluntary contraction was identified in the left biceps femoris.
Conclusions: The Ai Chi program produced a significant improvement in balance in
individuals with PD, with insignificant results shown in gait. Ai Chi is an appropriate
intervention to improve balance in individuals with PD.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberJAPT-D-22-00005
JournalJournal of Aquatic Physical Therapy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Jan 2023


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