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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Dec;51(12):1693-701.

Intense tai chi exercise training and fall occurrences in older, transitionally frail adults: a randomized, controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.



To determine whether an intense tai chi (TC) exercise program could reduce the risk of falls more than a wellness education (WE) program in older adults meeting criteria for transitioning to frailty.


Randomized, controlled trial of 48 weeks duration.


Twenty congregate living facilities in the greater Atlanta area.


Sample of 291 women and 20 men aged 70 to 97.


Demographics, time to first fall and all subsequent falls, functional measures, Sickness Impact Profile, Centers for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, Falls Efficacy Scales, and adherence to interventions.


The risk ratio (RR) of falling was not statistically different in the TC group and the WE group (RR=0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.52-1.08), P=.13). Over the 48 weeks of intervention, 46% (n=132) of the participants did not fall; the percentage of participants that fell at least once was 47.6% for the TC group and 60.3% for the WE group.


TC did not reduce the RR of falling in transitionally frail, older adults, but the direction of effect observed in this study, together with positive findings seen previously in more-robust older adults, suggests that TC may be clinically important and should be evaluated further in this high-risk population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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