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Tai Chi and hydrotherapy help ease arthritis
Water-based exercise and the Chinese
exercise system Tai Chi can help older people with severe arthritis
move and feel better, researchers from Australia report.
Among men and women 60 and older with
chronic osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, those who participated in
12 weeks of hydrotherapy or Tai Chi experienced significant
improvements in pain and physical function scores, Marlene Fransen of
The George Institute for International Health at the University of
Sydney and her colleagues found.
However, participants in the hydrotherapy
group were more likely to attend sessions than those assigned to Tai
Chi. They also experienced significant improvements in measurements of
physical performance, such as ability to climb stairs and walk, which
weren't seen in the Tai Chi group.
"Hydrotherapy classes appeared to be more
acceptable [higher attendance], appeared to provide greater relief of
joint pain, and resulted in larger improvements in objective
measurements of physical performance," Fransen and her team conclude in
the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
The researchers randomly assigned 152
people to hydrotherapy, Tai Chi, or a waiting group. Classes lasted an
hour and were offered twice a week.
After 12 weeks, there were significant
improvements on scores measuring pain and physical function in both
groups. Both groups also showed improvements in physical performance
scores, but these improvements were only significant from a statistical
standpoint in the hydrotherapy group.
At 24 weeks, all improvements had been
sustained, and were greater than have been demonstrated in studies of
traditional land-based exercise for arthritis patients, the researchers
noted. Among the hydrotherapy group, 81 per cent attended 12 or more of
the 24 available classes, compared to 61 per cent of those assigned to
Tai Chi. Just one of the study participants was Asian while the rest
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