Tai Chi could help fight cognitive declines post chemotherapy

Washington: A lot of people who are lucky enough to get cured of cancer tend to continue experiencing health problems due to the side effects endowed by existing treatments including chemotherapy.

The most common issues related to the same include decreases in verbal fluency and memory.

Now, one University of Missouri health psychologist has found evidence that indicates Chinese martial art Tai Chi might help overcome some of those problems.

"We know this activity can help people with their quality of life in general, and with this new study, we are encouraged about how Tai Chi could also help those who have received chemotherapy. I also hope this encourages more people to think about Tai Chi positively on a broader scale in their lives,” said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health Psychology in the School of Health Professions.

Tai Chi involves practicing slow motion routines and is based on several principles, including mindfulness, breathing awareness, active relaxation and slow movements. The emphasis on slow movement makes Tai Chi particularly suited to a wide range of fitness levels, which makes it very relevant for those who have had chemotherapy and might be experiencing physical limitations as a result, said Reid-Arndt.

The MU pilot study followed a group of women with a history of chemotherapy. The women participated in a 60-minute Tai Chi class two times a week for 10 weeks. The women were tested on memory, language, attention, stress, mood and fatigue before and after the 10-week sessions.

According to Reid-Arndt, the results of the tests indicated that the women had made significant improvements in their psychological health and cognitive abilities.

The study was published recently in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.