How tai chi is healing seniors
Using an ancient Chinese tradition, stroke survivors have a new way to reduce their risk of falling, according to a new study.
Originally a form of self-defense, tai chi is a gentle form of exercise focusing on slow, fluid movements combined with breathing techniques that has proven to be a stress reducer and now may help stroke victims maintain their balance.
Research presented at this year’s American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference reveals the benefits of practicing tai chi are particularly helpful for those who struggle to stay on their feet.
“Learning how to find and maintain your balance after a stroke is a challenge,” said study author, Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, in a statement. “Tai Chi is effective in improving both static and dynamic balance, which is important to prevent falls. Tai chi is readily available in most U.S. cities and is relatively inexpensive.”
Taylor-Piliae’s research shows that stroke victims will fall seven times more each year than healthy adults causing bone breaks, decreased mobility and an increasing sense of dependence on others for assistance.
Researchers followed nearly 90 people who experienced stroke. Thirty of those people in the study practiced tai chi, 28 received usual care and 31 exercised three times a week in a specialized fitness program.
During the 12-week trial, of the 34 falls reported, five were among the tai chi group, 15 in the usual care group and 14 in the specialized exercise group.
“The main physical benefits of tai chi are better balance, improved strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance,” Taylor-Piliae said. “Psycho-social benefits include less depression, anxiety and stress, and better quality of life.”
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