Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Postural Balance; Martial Arts; Aged


Loss of balance and falls among the elderly is a large health care problem, annually causing thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in health care costs. This study investigates whether T'ai Chi Chih can influence balance in the elderly. T' ai Chi Chih is a gentle form of exercise that originated as a martial art.

Fifteen subjects (T'ai Chi Chih, n = 9; control, n = 6) initially underwent two standard functional balance measures (Berg and Tinetti measures), were tested for eyes open single leg stance, and had their blood pressure taken. Subjects were randomly assigned to either a T'ai Chi Chih group or to a control group. The T'ai Chi Chih group participated in a weekly one hour T' ai Chi Chih class taught by a certified instructor for ten weeks. This group was also asked to practice T' ai Chi Chih independently for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. The control group continued with their regular activities during the ten week period.

Both groups repeated the initial balance tests and again had their blood pressure recorded. Statistical analysis showed a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure and a significant increase in time for right leg eyes open single leg stance for the T' ai Chi Chih group over the control group. These findings provide a foundation for an alternative exercise option for the elderly and may help with further research investigating the effects of T'ai Chi Chih on the elderly.