Tai Chi practitioners have lower fall risks under dual-task conditions during stair descending.
PLoS One. 2021 ;16(2):e0246292. Epub 2021 Feb 4. PMID: 33539403
Stairs are among the most hazardous locations, and stair descending contributes to a high risk of falls among the elderly under dual-task (DT) conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the practitioners of Tai Chi (TC), one type of mind-body exercise, have lower fall risks under DT conditions during stair descending, compared with their no-exercise (NE) counterparts. Fifteen TC practitioners with at least 10 years of experience in TC and fifteen NE participants were recruited in this study. They were asked to descend a six-step staircase under single-task (ST) and DT conditions. An eight-camera motion analysis system and two force plates were used for data collection. Results showed group by DT interactions in walking velocity (p = 0.016) and center of mass-center of pressure inclination angle (COM-COP IA) in the anteroposterior directions (p = 0.026). Group effects observed with foot clearance (p = 0.031), trunk (p = 0.041) and head (p = 0.002) tilt angles, and COM-COP IA in the mediolateral (p = 0.006) directions. Significant DT effects only detected in foot clearance (p = 0.004). Although both groups of participants adopted a more cautious gait strategy under the dual-task condition, the TC practitioners were less influenced by the DT paradigm than their NE counterparts. Our observations indicated that TC practitioners have lower fall risks under DT conditions during stair descending.