The effects of Tai Chi on balance and peripheral somatosensation in older adults with type 2 diabetes

Elisabeth Inge Cavegn, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in older adults is a major health concern, as older adults with diabetes have a two- to threefold risk of injurious falls and physical disability. Although studies on the effects of Tai Chi on balance and fall prevention have increased over the last two decades, the benefits for older adults with diabetes, specifically for those with impaired somatosensation in the lower extremities, are limited. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi exercise on balance, peripheral somatosensation, and fitness in older adults with type 2 diabetes. The study included eight adults with type 2 diabetes (mean age: 65.5 years) who participated in an 8-week Tai Chi intervention. Pre- and post-intervention assessments included foot tactile sense, ankle proprioception, plantar pressure distribution, balance, and fitness. A convenience sample of healthy older adults was included to establish a normal reference for the assessed variables. Following intervention, the older adults with type 2 diabetes showed significant improvements in ankle proprioception and fitness, and decreased plantar pressure in the forefoot. The Tai Chi intervention did not change balance or tactile sensation. The results of this study suggest that Tai Chi practice may contribute to foot health by distributing the plantar pressure away from the ulcer-prone sites in the forefoot. Tai Chi may also reduce the fall risk in older adults with diabetes by improving the ankle proprioceptive sense, which is thought to be an important factor for automatic balance correcting responses.^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Aging|Health Sciences, Recreation

Recommended Citation

Cavegn, Elisabeth Inge, "The effects of Tai Chi on balance and peripheral somatosensation in older adults with type 2 diabetes" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1494337.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1494337

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