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Tai Chi Strategic for Fall Prevention

Posted Jul 15 2013 10:07pm

Compared with other forms of exercise, performing the martial art tai chi not only reduced falls among Parkinson's disease patients, it was cost-effective as well. Fuzhong Li, from the Oregon Research Institute (Oregon, USA), and colleagues enrolled 65 persons with Parkinson's disease for each of the three comparator groups. The patients trained twice a week for 24 weeks and recorded falls on a monthly calendar. They also filled out the Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire (PDQ-8) at baseline and after the 6-month program concluded. The researchers also collected information to calculate Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) gained – considered to be a robust measure of cost-effectiveness.  The team reports that the cost for preventing one fall -- using a program of stretching exercise as a base -- was $8 less if patients were using tai chi. Further, it cost $69 less per fall prevented if patients were performing tai chi rather than strength training. The study authors submit that: “Compared with low-impact stretching exercises or conventional strength training, tai chi training appears to be a cost-effective strategy for preventing falls in people with Parkinson's disease.”

Li F, et al. "Tai chi training to reduce falls in patients with Parkinson's disease -- a cost-effectiveness analysis" Annual Meeting of the Movement Disorders Society. Presented June 18, 2013.

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Body Mass Index (BMI) is the ratio between height and weight. The number indicates whether a person is underweight, overweight, or within a normal weight range. Individuals with a BMI of 25.0 or greater are considered overweight and those with a BMI of 30.0 or greater are considered obese. Increased BMI is an established risk factor for several causes of death including ischemic heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

Researchers from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) reported that a BMI above the normal range is associated with an increased risk of death. The team reviewed data from 57 prospective studies involving a total of 894,576 patients in western Europe and North America as part of the Prospective Studies Collaboration. Mortality was about 30% higher for each additional 5 kg/m2, and primarily was correlated to 40% increased risk for vascular disease and 60 to 120% raised risks for diabetic, renal, and hepatic diseases, as well as 10% increased risk of neoplastic death and a 20% increased risk of death from respiratory causes. The researchers explain that: “"By avoiding a further increase from 28 kg/m2 to 32 kg/m2, a typical person in early middle age would gain about two years of life expectancy. Alternatively, by avoiding an increase from 24 kg/m2 to 32 kg/m2, a young adult would on average gain about three extra years of life."

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