Augmented Reality-Assisted Training With Selected Tai-Chi Movements Improves Balance Control and Increases Lower Limb Muscle Strength in Older Adults: A Prospective Randomized Trial

Author: Po-Jung Chen, I-Wen Penn, Shun-Hwa Wei, Long-Ren Chuang, Wen-Hsu Sung
1 Department of Physical Therapy and Assistive Technology, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, 11221, Taiwan.
2 School of Medicine, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, 24205, Taiwan.
3 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, 24352, Taiwan.
4 Department of Chinese Martial Arts, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, 11114, Taiwan.
Conference/Journal: Journal of exercise science and fitness
Date published: 2020 Sep
Other: Volume ID: 18 , Issue ID: 3 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.jesf.2020.05.003. , Word Count: 412

PMID: 32514277 PMCID: PMC7265060 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesf.2020.05.003
Free PMC article
Background: Tai-Chi benefits older adults by enhancing balance control and increasing the muscle strength of the lower limbs. However, a complete set of traditional Tai-Chi exercises is sometimes too difficult for beginners. We investigated whether practicing augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements tailored to the practitioner's ability (selected Tai-Chi, or sTC) is as effective as performing a complete set of Tai-Chi sequences (complete traditional Tai-Chi, or tTC).

Methods: In this prospective randomized trial carried out in the Beitou District of Taipei City, Taiwan, community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 and without any debilitating diseases (n = 28) were included. Participants were randomly assigned to the sTC group (n = 14) or the tTC group (n = 14). Participants in the sTC group practiced selected Tai-Chi movements using the augmented reality Tai-Chi training system. Participants of the tTC group were asked to complete the 24-form Yang-style Tai-Chi following the instructions of Tai-Chi masters. Each training session lasted 30 min, with 3 sessions per week for 8 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations included functional balance tests, comprising the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go test (TUG), and Functional Reach Test (FRT), as well as muscle strength measurements of the lower extremities.

Results: Pre-intervention evaluations showed significant differences in FRT (p = 0.034) and left hip abductor muscle strength (p = 0.046) between the sTC and tTC groups. After 8 weeks of training, the BBS, TUG, and FRT scores in the sTC group showed significant improvement overall. Although all three functional balance test scores improved in the tTC group, only the improvement in BBS was statistically significant (p = 0.001). After 8 weeks, all muscle strength measurements increased by an average of 3.1 ± 1.0 kgw in the sTC group and 1.6 ± 0.8 kgw in the tTC group.

Conclusions: The augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements, designed based on objective measurements of the practitioner's capability, improved balance control and muscle strength of lower limbs at least as effectively as the complete sequence of traditional Tai-Chi exercises.

Trial registration: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of National Yang-Ming University (IRB number: 1000087). Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Keywords: Augmented reality-assisted training; Berg Balance Scale, BBS; Exercise; Functional Reach Test, FRT; Functional balance; Muscle strength; Tai-Chi; Timed Up and Go test, TUG; augmented reality, AR; base of support, BOS; center of pressure, COP; complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor, CMOS; electromyography, EMG; selected Tai-Chi, sTC; traditional Tai-Chi, tTC; virtual reality, VR.

© 2020 The Society of Chinese Scholars on Exercise Physiology and Fitness. Published by Elsevier (Singapore) Pte Ltd.