The University of Arizona College of Nursing is seeking stroke survivors to participate in a free, 12-week program of tai chi to determine if this low-impact, Eastern form of exercise is effective in improving physical functioning or quality of life after a stroke.

The “Tai Chi Exercise for Stroke Survivors Study” is looking for Tucson-area adults aged 50 or older who suffered a stroke at least three months ago, and who are currently enrolled in or previously had stroke rehabilitation.

Physical activity and exercise training are important aspects of stroke rehabilitation to reduce disability, and most rehab programs traditionally include western forms of exercise, such as cycling or walking.

Tai chi has been shown to improve balance, strength, flexibility, aerobic endurance and quality of life in research studies involving non-stroke populations, such as those who are frail, fall-prone or have chronic heart failure.

The UA study will examine the effect of a 12-week tai chi exercise intervention on physical functioning, quality of life, and exercise behavior among stroke survivors, compared to SilverSneakers and traditional rehab.

Study participants will be randomly assigned to three months of free tai chi instruction from a tai chi master in Tucson, SilverSneakers classes taught by a certified instructor, or receive weekly phone calls with recommendations for participating in a community-based physical activity program.

Participants will be evaluated for balance, strength, walking speed and aerobic endurance at the beginning of the study, immediately after the intervention at 12 weeks and at a 24-week follow-up.

The next session will begin Aug. 22.

To register or for more information, call the tai chi research office at 621-7081.

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