Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Exercise and Sport Sciences

Major Professor

Songning Zhang

Committee Members

Clare E. Milner, Jeffrey T. Fairbrother, Robert W. Mee


Objective. The objective of this study was to evaluate a 10-week Taiji intervention to a 10-week strength training intervention in terms of their ability to relieve osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, alter gait, and improve mobility in seniors with knee OA.

Methods. Men and women between the ages of 60 and 85 years who met the American College of Rheumatology criteria for knee OA were recruited to participate in either a simplified Taiji program (n=12), an open-chain strength training program (n=13), or a control group (n=6). All participants completed the Western Ontario and MacMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), three physical performance tests, and a 3-D gait analysis at baseline and again after the 10-week intervention.

Results. The strength training group significantly improved on the time up-and-go test (p = 0.001), the WOMAC pain sub-score (p=0.006), WOMAC stiffness sub-score (p<0.001), and WOMAC physical function sub-score (p=0.011). The Taiji group significantly improved on the timed up-and-go (p<0.001), but there was no change in their WOMAC scores. Neither group showed any significant changes in either kinematic or kinetic gait variables.

Conclusion. Strength training was effective for improving mobility and improving the symptoms of knee OA. Taiji was also effective for improving mobility, but did not improve the participants‟ knee OA symptoms. Neither intervention had an effect the participants walking gait.

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