A randomized controlled clinical trial

Libby Spiers is a physiotherapist and warm water exercise coordinator at Arthritis Victoria.

A recent study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism found that both hydrotherapy and Tai Chi for Arthritis classes can provide large and sustained improvements in physical function for older, sedentary people with chronic osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee or hip.

The researchers carried out a randomised controlled trial among 152 older people with chronic OA of the hip or knee. Participants attended either Tai Chi for Arthritis classes or hydrotherapy twice per week for 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, compared with controls, the exercise group participants demonstrated significant improvements for pain and physical function scores. These improvements were maintained at 24 weeks.

"This study shows the health benefits of the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, these benefits don't necesarily translate to other forms of tai chi"
- Dr Marlene Fransen, chief investigator of this study.

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