Teaching Tai Chi to elders with osteoarthritis pain and mild cognitive impairment


  • Jason Y. Chang, PhD
  • Pao-Feng Tsai, RN, PhD
  • Sheery Woods
  • Cornelia Beck, RN, PhD
  • Paula K. Roberson, PhD
  • Karl Rosengren, PhD




cognitive impairment, osteoarthritis, Tai Chi, teaching strategy


This article describes the authors’ experience and strategies in teaching Tai Chi, a gentle exercise derived from an ancient Chinese martial art, to mildly cognitively impaired elders to relieve osteoarthritic knee pain. The 12-form Sun-style Tai Chi, a set of Tai Chi forms endorsed by the American Arthritis Foundation, was used in the program. Teaching Tai Chi to elders with mild cognitive impairment requires particular strategies tailored to their physical and cognitive frailty. When effectively taught, Tai Chi can be a unique and cost-effective intervention for elders with knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Author Biographies

Jason Y. Chang, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Pao-Feng Tsai, RN, PhD

Associate Professor, College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sheery Woods

Assistant Community Fitness Program Coordinator, University Rehab Therapy and Fitness Center, Reynolds Institute on Aging, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Cornelia Beck, RN, PhD

Professor, Department of Geriatrics, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Paula K. Roberson, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Biostatistics, Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Karl Rosengren, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.


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How to Cite

Chang, PhD, J. Y., Tsai, RN, PhD, P.-F., Woods, S., Beck, RN, PhD, C., Roberson, PhD, P. K., & Rosengren, PhD, K. (2011). Teaching Tai Chi to elders with osteoarthritis pain and mild cognitive impairment. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 10(1), 11–16. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2011.0002