Tai chi, a form of Chinese martial arts often practiced for its health benefits, may be an effective treatment option for patients who suffer from dizziness and balance disorders (also known as vestibular disorders).

In a paper presented recently at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO in San Diego, researchers evaluated the utility of tai chi in managing patients with vestibular symptoms who have failed conventional vestibular therapy. It could include individualized physical therapy or different sets of physical maneuvers that a physician performs on a patient.

Researchers conducted a questionnaire study from April 2008 to March 2009 at an outpatient rehabilitation program, using the activities-specific balance confidence scale and dynamic gait index survey, both prior to therapy and at the conclusion of an 8-week course. A total of 21 patients (18 females, three males) completed the study to date. Patients reported subjective improvements in their vestibular symptoms.

Researchers theorize that the technique may be effective because tai chi promotes coordination through relaxation, rather than muscular coordination.

Title: Tai Chi as a form of vestibular rehabilitation
Presenters: Paul S. Lee, MD

[Source: AAO-HNS]