One stroke expert not connected to the study said he's seen the discipline's benefits firsthand.
"Tai Chi is an exercise form that emphasizes balance, core strength and integration of mind and body in movement," said Dr. Jesse Weinberger, professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. "It has previously been shown to improve motor function and prevent falls in the elderly and in patients with Parkinson's disease.
"In addition to being a vascular neurologist, I also practice the Yang style of the Tai Chi form and I have several patients in my class who have had strokes or have Parkinson's and they show improvement in balance and coordination," Weinberger said.
"The main benefit of Tai Chi for the stroke patient is the integration of mind and body through meditation in motion to improve motor control," he said.
Taylor-Piliae agreed that Tai Chi offers a wide range of benefits beyond the physical. "Psycho-social benefits include less depression, anxiety and stress, and better quality of life," she said.
Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about Tai Chi.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCES: Jesse Weinberger, M.D., professor of neurology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; American Stroke Association, news release, Feb. 6, 2013
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