New Study Shows Tai Chi Helps Cancer Patients

5 years 9 months 2 weeks ago June 07, 2011 Jun 7, 2011 Tuesday, June 07 2011 Tuesday, June 07, 2011 1:57:00 PM CDT in News
By: Brian Johnson
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COLUMBIA - The Chinese martial art Tai Chi benefits cancer patients treated with chemotherapy according to a new study from University of Missouri. Dr. Stephanie Reid-Arndt, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Psychology in the School of Health Professionals, said Tai Chi can help alleviate common side affects of chemotherapy.

Researchers say participants who used Tai Chi as part of their treatment experienced improved quality of life, better physical functioning, better attention and multitasking skills.

"I think that Tai Chi can be helpful in so many ways," said Dr. Reid-Arndt. "I would love to see more women and men use that intervention."

The study included 23 female cancer patients who participated twice a week in one hour long Tai Chi exercises for 10 weeks. The results of the study show that Tai Chi benefits patients physically with better balance and psychological functions.

"Patients really like it," said Reid-Arndt. "They like to not have another medication and some of them don't like the idea of sitting around talking about their problems. Some of them would rather do something active."

While the study has positive findings more research is needed because of the small sample size.

"This was a pilot study," said Dr. Reid-Arndt. "The real goal is to bring attention to Tai Chi as something that can help cognitive abilities like memory and concentration as well as psychological and physical functioning. We need to do more research to clearly understand how it might benefit and the extent of benefit."

Reid-Arndt said Tai Chi is a holistic intervention in that it improves physical, psychological, and cognitive functioning.

"One of the important things that our group is doing in the Department of Health Psychology is trying to bring attention to the psychological needs of the patients that we serve here at MU Health Care," said Reid-Arndt. "This is one way that our research is attempting to do that."

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