The Feasibility of Tai Chi Exercise as a Beneficial Mind-Body Intervention in a Group of Community-Dwelling Stroke Survivors with Symptoms of Depression

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Abstract

Depression is prevalent among one-third to two-thirds of acute and chronic stroke survivors. Despite the availability of pharmacotherapies and/or psychotherapies, depression persists, even for 5–10 years after stroke, reflecting limited treatment responses and/or adherence to this conventional care. Mind-body interventions are commonly used among adults to ameliorate depressive symptoms. Thus, the feasibility of Tai Chi, alongside conventional care, to manage poststroke depression was investigated using a single-group pre-post intervention design. Recruitment and retention, intervention adherence, safety, acceptability, and fidelity were assessed. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress were assessed using standardized questionnaires, objective sleep was assessed via a research-grade triaxial accelerometer, and blood samples were taken to measure oxidative stress, inflammatory markers, and a neurotrophic growth factor using commercially available kits per manufacturer’s protocol. Pre-post intervention changes were assessed using paired t-tests. We enrolled stroke survivors (N = 11, mean age = 69.7 ± 9.3) reporting depression symptoms. After the intervention, we observed significant reductions in symptoms of depression (−5.3 ± 5.9, p = 0.01), anxiety (−2.2 ± 2.4, p = 0.01), and stress (−4.6 ± 4.8, p = 0.01), along with better sleep efficiency (+1.8 ± 1.8, p = 0.01), less wakefulness after sleep onset (−9.3 ± 11.6, p = 0.04), and less time awake (−9.3 ± 11.6, p = 0.04). There was a 36% decrease in oxidative stress (p = 0.02), though no significant changes in the other biomarkers were found (all p values >0.05). Tai Chi exercise is a feasible intervention that can be used alongside conventional care to manage poststroke depression, aid in reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress, and improve sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8600443
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume2021
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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