A mixed methods pilot study of a 6 month weekly Tai Ji (Tai Chi) group for survivors of acquired brain injury.


Physical and psychological benefits of tai chi (TJ) have been demonstrated for survivors of acquired brain injury (ABI). However investigators have framed TJ primarily as a physical intervention, with an absent underlying theoretical framework to conceptualise psychological gains from the practice. Traditional sampling strategies have optimised homogenous samples in many studies, in contrast to ABI groups with diverse physical, cognitive and emotional needs that commonly use community-based ABI services. This study aims to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to highlight both shared gains and diversity in responses to a standard TJ group intervention in a typical ABI community service sample. These preliminary findings will be used to develop a rationale for bespoke adaptation of TJ learning/practice to optimise psychological gains across survivors. 9 Survivors of ABI using community services were recruited to attend a weekly class of TJ over six months. The instructor offered some physical adaptations to learning and practice. Questionnaire measures of anxiety/depression, fatigue and QoL were administered at baseline, repeated every 4 sessions and at the end of the last session. A focus group was held half-way and at the end of the intervention. Quantitative data was analysed using single-case pre-post comparisons (RCI), and a thematic analysis was performed on the qualitative data. While clinical gains in reduced anxiety, depression and fatigue and improved QoL was observed for some participants, no changes or deterioration on some measures were evident in others. Focus group data highlighted shared gains in increased energy, relaxation and social group identification, alongside idiosyncratic challenges for each participation from the class environment, cognitive and physical demands of learning TJ. This study has provided both quantitative and qualitative data which highlight diverse experiences and challenges for survivors of ABI when learning and practicing TJ, although there are also indications of shared benefits in fatigue management and social group membership.