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Contemp Nurse. 2014;48(1):76-87. doi: 10.5172/conu.2014.48.1.76.

The influence of tai chi and yoga on balance and falls in a residential care setting: A randomised controlled trial.

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Faculty of Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.


Falls amongst older people is a global public health concern. Whilst falling is not a typical feature of ageing, older people are more likely to fall. Fall injuries amongst older people are a leading cause of death and disability. Many older people do not do regular exercise so that they lose muscle tone, strength, and flexibility which affect balance and predispose them to falls. The management of falls in residential care settings is a major concern with strategies for prevention and monitoring a focus in this setting. Yoga and tai chi have shown potential to improve balance and prevent falls in older adults. They also have potential to improve pain and quality of life. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of conducting a three-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) with frail older people in a residential care setting to test the hypothesis that a 14-week modified tai chi or yoga programme is more effective than usual care activity in improving balance function, quality of life, pain experience and in reducing number of falls. There were no statistically significant differences between the three groups in the occurrence of falls. Yoga demonstrated a slight decrease in fall incidence; quality of life improved for the tai chi group. Only the yoga group experienced a reduction in average pain scores though not statistically significant. The findings of the study suggest it is possible to safely implement modified yoga and tai chi in a residential care setting and evaluate this using RCT design. They show positive changes to balance, pain and quality of life and a high level of interest through attendance amongst the older participants. The results support offering tai chi and yoga to older people who are frail and dependent with physical and cognitive limitations.


balance; falls; pain; quality of life; tai chi; yoga

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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