Tai Chi And Stroke Recovery
by Dr. Ronald
No Pain, But Lots of Gain
Tai chi is an ancient, Chinese
martial art that has been adapted into a form of exercise. It's
becoming increasingly popular. The short form of tai chi uses
slow, meditative movements to enhance the fl ow of energy within
your body. It also calms the mind and promotes alert relaxation.
There are many good things about
tai chi, but it's the documented health benefits I want to share
with you today. The health benefits of tai chi are impressive.
Recent research shows that you can use tai chi to help with a
variety of health issues.
Faster and Better Stroke
Most recently, researchers discovered
that tai chi benefits stroke victims. When you suffer a stroke,
it can take a long time to fully recover your balance. The resulting
mobility issues can cause you to fall and injure yourself.
A research team from the University
of Illinois at Chicago discovered that tai chi helps you recover
your balance faster. Dr. Hui-Chan led the study, using the following
- 136 patients participated.
- Each patient had survived a
stroke within the last six months.
- The patients were divided into
- One group practiced tai chi.
- The other did standard stretching
and mobility exercises.
At regular intervals, the researchers
tested the patients, measuring their ability to shift their weight,
to hold their balance on a moving surface, and to lean in different
directions. The tai chi group outperformed the other group when
it came to balance control. (1)
According to Hui-Chan, enhanced
balance control improves the patients' ability to perform everyday
tasks. Patients in the tai chi group showed improvements very
quickly. Dr. 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." (2)
Tai Chi Reduces Pain and
This is of tremendous significance
to aging people:
- Practicing tai chi helps keep
your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. It promotes general
health, improves neuromuscular coordination, and slows bone loss.
- If you've reached middle age
or beyond, tai chi may improve your blood pressure and increase
your overall muscle strength. (4)
- Some patients with osteoarthritis
report that tai chi helps to control pain and improve mobility.
Tai chi is a low-impact exercise
that is safe for just about anyone to do. It provides many health
and fitness benefits and can give you a mental lift, too. In
most cities and towns, there are tai chi classes available through
local community centers. You can even see groups practicing in
Look one up and give it a try.
Please talk to your doctor before
you make changes to your diet, exercise routine or supplements.
Until next time
Hui-Chan CWY, et al. "Short-form
Tai Chi improves standing balance of people with chronic stroke,"Neurorehabilitation
and Neural Repair. Published online January 2009.
"Stroke Survivors Improve Balance with Tai Chi,"Bayho.com.
March 30, 2009.
Lui PP, et al. "Tai Chi Chuan exercises in enhancing
bone mineral density in active seniors," Clin Sports Med
2008; 27(1): 75-86
Chen KM, et al. "The effects of a Simplifi ed Tai-Chi
Exercise Program (STEP) on the physical health of older adults
living in long-term care facilities : A single group design with
multiple time points," Intl J Nursing Studies 2008: 45(4):
Lee MS, et al. "Tai chi for osteoarthritis: a systematic
review," Clinical Rheumatology 2008; 27(2): 211-18