Background: Studies show that Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese mind-body exercise, has the potential to improve cognitive and physical function among the elderly. However, debates continue about its effectiveness among persons with dementia (PWD).
Primary study objective: This study assessed the effectiveness of Tai Chi in improving cognitive, physical, and emotional function among PWDs.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of research on online databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Pubmed, and Cochrane Library) published up to April 2021. Relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were reviewed and analyzed. A random-effect model was used to evaluate the pooled mean difference values.
Intervention: The individuals in the intervention group practiced Tai Chi exercises in addition to their regular care, while the individuals in the control group continued their usual care.
Primary outcome measures: We focus on three outcome measures: the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE), Timed Up and Go (TUG), and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) scores.
Results: Seven studies (N = 616) were included in the meta-analysis. Our results show that Tai Chi can improve cognitive function in PWDs (P = .007, SMD = 0.27; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.47). However, Tai Chi might not improve the TUG (P = .25, SMD = -0.64; 95% CI, -1.74 to 0.46) and GDS (P = .61; SMD = -0.36; 95% CI -2.00 to 1.17) functions.
Conclusions: The results suggest that Tai Chi can help improve cognitive function among PWDs, but it has no physical and emotional benefits as assessed using the TUG and GDS scales, respectively.