BACKGROUND: One of the effects of diabetes mellitus (DM), peripheral neuropathy, affects the sensation in the feet and can increase the chance of falling. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of 8 weeks of Tai Chi (TC) training combined with mental imagery (MI) on improving balance in people with diabetes and an age matched control group.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Seventeen healthy subjects and 12 diabetic sedentary subjects ranging from 40–80 years of age were recruited. All subjects in both groups attended a Yang style of TC class using MI strategies, 2 sessions a week for 8 weeks. Each session was one hour long. Measures were taken using a balance platform test, an Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale, a one leg standing test (OLS), functional reach test (FRT) and hemoglobin A1C. These measures were taken twice, pre and post-study, for both groups.
RESULTS: Both groups experienced significant improvements in ABC, OLS, FRT (P<0.01) after completing 8 weeks of TC exercise with no significant improvement between groups. Subjects using the balance platform test demonstrated improvement in balance in all different tasks with no significant change between groups. There was no significant change in HbA1C for the diabetic group.
CONCLUSIONS: All results showed an improvement in balance in the diabetic and the control groups; however, no significant difference between the groups was observed. Since the DM group had more problems with balance impairment at baseline than the control, the diabetic group showed the most benefit from the TC exercise.
Alsubiheen, A., Petrofsky, J. S., Daher, N., Lohman, E., & Balbas, E. (2015). Effect of tai chi exercise combined with mental imagery theory in improving balance in a diabetic and elderly population. Medical Science Monitor, 21, 3054-3061.