Stroke survivors can improve balance with regular Tai Chi practice, according to a new University of Illinois at Chicago study. Lead researcher Christina Hui-Chan, physical therapy professor at UIC, has previously studied and utilized Tai Chi as a method to reduce falls among healthy elderly subjects and to improve balance.
Findings of the recent study indicate that stroke survivors may benefit from Tai Chi practice as well. Participants included 136 Hong Kong-based subjects who had experienced a stroke during the six months prior to the study.
Subjects were randomly assigned to either a Tai Chi group or a group that practiced breathing, walking, stretching, memorizing, and reasoning exercises.
Tai Chi Chuan, or Tai Chi, is a Chinese martial art of the internal style, which emphasizes breathing and the mental component of training. Tai Chi exercises consist of fluid, gentle, graceful movements that are slow in motion, making it appropriate for any age group.
Tai Chi improves blood circulation, strengthens and mobilizes joints and muscles and significantly improves physical fitness. Tai Chi participants are more alert, flexible and physically active, all positive factors that can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling.
Participants were taught a basic version of Tai Chi that has been shown to be beneficial to arthritis patients, practicing in a weekly class and at home three days a week for an hour. They were then assessed for their ability to maintain balance in varied conditions. The Tai Chi group advanced significantly beyond the control group in balance improvement.
"The Tai Chi group did particularly better in conditions that required them to use their balance control," Hui-Chan said. "In only six weeks, we saw significant improvements. The ability to shift your weight is very important because all reaching tasks require it.”
Hui-Chan has found that Tai Chi can be taught to most people by a trained instructor. The morning group Tai Chi exercises typically practiced in China can benefit western countries as well. "It can be taught at community centers, YWCAs or in parks in the summer," Hui-Chan said.
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day Event
All are welcome at Acupuncture & Massage College’s World Tai Chi & Qigong Day event, which will be held on Saturday, May 2, 10 am to 2pm on the AMC campus, located at 10506 N. Kendall Drive, Miami. For information call (305) 595-9500. The event, a four-hour seminar of Tai Chi and Qigong, can be attended for only a $20.00 fee.
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, a spectacular global health and healing event, is held in April each year. Tai Chi and Qigong groups form mass gatherings in public parks or other public places around the world, in 60 nations and 50 US states, at 10 am (local time) to exhibit Tai Chi and QiGong to the community and the world. Activities are open to the public and educate about Tai Chi and Qigong health benefits.
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.