This pioneering study was funded by the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation and jointly conducted by Dr William Tsang and Dr Amy Fu of PolyU's Centre for East-meets-West in Rehabilitation Sciences. They have simplified the 24-form Yang style Tai Chi into 8-form and offered it to elderly people with visual impairment. Since the participants are learning Tai Chi through tactile guidance given by the master, this set of exercise is thus called "Tactile Tai Chi for the Visually Impaired".
Researchers have enrolled forty older people with visual impairment and divided them into two groups for the study. Among them, 20 Tai Chi participants were asked to practise in 90 minute sessions, three times a week for 16 weeks, while the subjects in the control group joined a percussion activity and learnt to play the Djembe. After four months, it was found that the Tai Chi participants showed significant improvements in their balance control, head and trunk movement when compared to the control group.
The result of this study has been published in the latest issue of international journal Age and Ageing. The findings also correlated with the result of a previous study relevant to Tai Chi, conducted in 2004 by the same Centre, which affirmed that practising Tai Chi could help improving the knee joint position sense.
Dr William Tsang added that the simplified Tai Chi exercise is also fit for visually impaired people of different ages to practise, not just for elderly people. The research team has made some DVDs to introduce the exercise in details.
The University sincerely thanked the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation for its support and the Hong Kong Society for the Blind for facilitating this study.
Dr William Tsang
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
Tel: (852) 2766 6717
Email: [email protected]