Tai Chi Helps Reduce Falls in Stroke Survivors

Is Tai Chi effective with stroke survivors? Does Tai Chi help with balance and stability?

Tai Chi helps prevent falls

Tai Chi can help to prevent falls. Tai Chi is effective in developing both static and dynamic balance. Click, copy, download, save and share.


WHY IS TAI CHI IMPORTANT TO STROKE SURVIVORS?

Stroke survivors are very much prone to falls after stroke. Some statistics say that stroke survivors are likely to experience seven times as many falls each year than healthy adults.  Falls can result in social isolation, depression dependence, and cause fractures, limited mobility and increase a fear of falling. Tai Chi can help bring increased mobility, balance and control. This is essential to stroke survivors.

WHAT IS TAI CHI?
Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise, about 2,000 years old.  At one time more than 100 separate movements or postures were recorded.  It is a physical discipline that involves a continuous series of controlled, most often slow movements.  These movements are designed to improve physical and mental well-being.  Tai Chi is also called t’ai chi ch’uan, or  tai chi chuan.

It is estimated that more than 10 million people practice some type of t’ai chi every day in China.  Currently in modern-day Tai Chi practice, there are two popular versions, of 18 movements and 37 movements respectively. Tai Chi is the one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world.   Tai Chi students (or “players,” as they are called in China) often wear loose, comfortable clothing and either go barefoot or wear only socks or soft shoes on the feet. People in China usually practice Tai Chi outdoors in the morning, whereas people in the United States attend Tai Chi classes indoors.

Tai Chi Positions ChartTai Chi classes typically start with a few minutes of standing meditation.  This calms the mind, and helps participants to gather Chi or energy. Students then begin with warm-up exercises, and practice particular postures or forms.  Yang-style Tai Chi, as practiced in the study, is the most popular of five styles used in the United States.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US?
According to the latest research presented at the American Stroke Association‘s International Stroke Conference 2013, Tai Chi may help to reduce falls in stroke survivors.

In the report from the American Stroke Association, out of the three control groups, those stroke survivors practicing Tai Chi had fewer falls than the other two groups of stroke survivors: those receiving usual care or those participating in a national fitness program for Medicare-eligible adults called SilverSneakers.®

Tai Chi GroupResearchers recruited 89 stroke survivors – most of whom had ischemic strokes.   The study was a randomized prospective study conducted outside of a hospital setting. The average age of participants was 70 years old.  Forty-six (46) percent were women.  Most of the participants were college educated, Caucasian, and living in or around Tucson, Arizona.  The majority of the participants had had a stroke within three years prior to the research study.

The research study group was divided into three control groups:  1) 30 practiced Tai Chi, 2) 28 people took part in usual care and 3) 31 people participated in SilverSneakers®.   The Tai Chi and SilverSneakers® groups included specific exercise classes lasting one hour, three times every week for twelve weeks. The usual care group received a weekly phone call and given written information about how they could participate in a community physical exercise activity.

During the twelve-week period, there were 34 reported falls in participants’ homes mainly from slipping or tripping: five falls in the Tai Chi group; 15 falls in the usual care group; and 14 falls in the Silver Sneakers group. Four people asked for medical treatment.

According to the principal researcher, Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, Ph.D., R.N., and assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing in Tucson, Arizona,

“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.”

The results of this study were significant.  More research is needed to study the benefits of Tai Chi which can include: better balance, improved strength and balance, flexibility,  endurance, increased energy, a sense of well-being, reduced anxiety.

_______________________________


Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

30 Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi

Greetings friends!

30 Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi

30 Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. Click, copy, download, save and share with family members and friends.

WHAT IS QIGONG and WHAT IS TAI CHI?

The word Qigong (Chi Kung) consists of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced “chee” and is usually translated to mean “the life force”or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.  The second word, Gong, pronounced “gung,” means accomplishment, or skill that is achieved through disciplined effort or continued practice. Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy, it is a system for healing and increasing energy or vitality.

“Stillness and action are relative, not absolute, principles.  It is important to find a balance of yin and yang, not just in qigong, but in everyday life.  In movement, seek stillness and rest.  In rest, be mindful and attentive.

Ken Cohen, The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing, pages 4-5

Tai Chi (Taiji Quan) is a style of qigong.   It is slow and fluid-like.  Other types of qigong exercise are for developing specific systems or parts of the body– nervous system, endocrine system, etc.,  but Taiji Quan is an exercise for the whole body, mind, and spirit with the goal of restoration and wholeness.


HOW DOES QIGONG HELP IMPROVE HEALTH?

The breathing, gentle movement, and meditation techniques  of qigong help to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi). Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a tranquil state of mind. In the past, qigong has also been called nei gong (inner work) and dao yin (guiding energy).   Research studies show that qigong may be effective in the treatment of many illnesses including cancer and heart disease.  Recent studies show that qigong delays the effects of aging and is useful with elderly and those experiencing symptoms of dementia.

Here is a listing of thirty benefits and positive effects of qigong and/or tai chi, as noted in a variety of reports, reviews, and research studies.

  1.  Loosens Muscles
  2. Builds Power
  3. Strengthens Organs
  4. Slows Respiration
  5.  Strengthens Nerves
  6. Builds Bone Density
  7. Prevents Joint Injury
  8. Strengthens Ligaments
  9. Destroys Free Radicals
  10. Increases Injury Recovery
  11. Decreases Stress
  12. Balances Emotions
  13. Improves Circulation
  14. Prevents Muscular Spasms
  15. Reduces Pain
  16. Lowers Heart Rate
  17. Normalizes EKG
  18. Lowers Blood Pressure
  19. Improves Asthma
  20. Relieves Bronchitis
  21. Builds Immune System
  22. Relieves Migraines
  23. Decreases Stroke Risk
  24. Improves Skin Elasticity
  25. Improves Posture
  26. Improves Flexibility
  27. Increases Balance
  28. Improves Memory
  29. Aides in Digestion
  30. Improves Kidney Function

Research suggests that qigong and/or tai chi can be very helpful and effective in bringing balance, harmony, and healing to the body, mind, and spirit for people of all ages and cultures. More research is needed in controlled settings, over a longer periods of time, to better determine the effect that qigong has on health and wellness. Changes in diet and other alternative and orthodox medical treatments are also influential and work with qigong to bring about wellness.   Always confide in your trusted health professional for advice.

Best wishes to you from your health and wellness friends at MBHA.

The Qigong Research Society
The Qigong Institude – Scientific Papers and Reviews