Tai Chi for dynamic balance training among individuals with cerebellar ataxia: An assessor-blind randomised controlled trial

Stanley John Winser, Marco Yiu Chung Pang, Tsang William, Susan Whitney

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the immediate and long-term effects of 12 weeks of Tai Chi training on dynamic balance and disease severity among individuals with cerebellar ataxia.
Design: An assessor-blind, two-arm, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial was conducted among 24 participants with cerebellar ataxia. Participants were randomised to receive either Tai Chi intervention (n=12) or usual care (n=12). Dynamic balance was assessed using the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) balance component (SARAbal), Sensory Organization Test (SOT), and Limits of Stability (LOS) test. Disease severity was assessed using the SARA and health-related quality of life using the Euroqol visual analogue scale (EQ-VAS). Assessments were completed at baseline (Week 0: T1), post-intervention (Week 12: T2), and at the end of the 24-week (Week 36: T3) follow-up period.
Interventions: The 8-form Tai Chi exercise was delivered in 60-minute sessions, 3 times a week for 12 weeks. Participants were asked to complete an unsupervised home Tai Chi exercise programme over the next 24 weeks. Participants in the usual care control group completed all study measures but did not receive any intervention.
Results: Compared with the usual care control group, after 12 weeks of Tai Chi training, the experimental group demonstrated beneficial effects for dynamic balance assessed using the BBS, (mean difference [MD]: 4, (95% confidence interval [CI]): −1.06 to 8.71 and the SARAbal (MD: −1.33, CI: −2.66 to 2.33). The effect size ranged from small to large. The benefits gained were not sustained after 24 weeks during the follow-up assessment. Tai Chi did not benefit disease severity and health-related quality of life in this population.
Conclusion: Some evidence supports the immediate beneficial effects of 12 weeks of Tai Chi training on the dynamic balance among individuals with cerebellar ataxia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Oct 2021

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