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Clinical effectiveness of cognitively enhanced Tai Ji Quan training on global cognition and dual-task performance during walking in older adults with mild cognitive impairment or self-reported memory concerns: a randomized controlled trial
Li F, Harmer P, Eckstrom E, Fitzgerald K, Winters-Stone K
Annals of Internal Medicine 2023 Nov;176(11):1498-1507
clinical trial
8/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

BACKGROUND: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) negatively impacts cognition and dual-task abilities. A physical-cognitive integrated treatment approach could mitigate this risk for dementia. OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of cognitively enhanced tai ji quan versus standard tai ji quan or stretching exercise in improving global cognition and reducing dual-task walking costs in older adults with MCI or self-reported memory concerns. DESIGN: 3-group, randomized (1:1:1), superiority trial. ( NCT04070703). SETTING: Community residential homes. PARTICIPANTS: 318 older adults with self-reported memory decline or concern and a Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) global score of 0.5 or lower at baseline. INTERVENTION: Cognitively enhanced tai ji quan (n = 105), standard tai ji quan (n = 107), or stretching (n = 106). All groups exercised at home via real-time videoconferencing, 1 hour semiweekly for 24 weeks. MEASUREMENTS: The co-primary endpoints were change in Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA; range, 0 to 30) and dual-task walking costs (difference between single- and dual-task gait speed, expressed in percentage) from baseline to 24 weeks. Secondary outcomes included CDR-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB), Trail Making Test B, Digit Span Backward (DSB), and physical performance tests. Outcomes were assessed at 16, 24 (primary endpoint), and 48 weeks (6 months after intervention). RESULTS: A total of 304 participants (96%) completed the 24-week assessment. Cognitively enhanced tai ji quan outperformed standard tai ji quan and stretching with a greater improvement in MoCA score (mean difference, 1.5 points (98.75% CI 0.7 to 2.2 points) and 2.8 points (CI 2.1 to 3.6 points), respectively) and in dual-task walking (mean difference, 9.9% (CI 2.8% to 16.6%) and 22% (CI 13% to 31%), respectively). The intervention effects persisted at 48-week follow-up. LIMITATION: There was no nonexercise control group; participants had subjective or mild cognitive impairment. CONCLUSION: Among community-dwelling older adults with MCI, cognitively enriched tai ji quan therapy was superior to standard tai ji quan and stretching exercise in improving global cognition and reducing dual-task gait interference, with outcomes sustained at 48 weeks. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: National Institute on Aging.

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