Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention
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The Need for a Fall Prevention Program
Each year in the U.S. more than one-third of adults 65 and older experience a fall. For those who fall, up to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries from bruises to hip fractures or head traumas. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among the elderly population.
Among various steps older adults can take to prevent falls are exercise and practicing the art of Tai Chi. Research has shown that Tai Chi, a very low-impact balance and mental agility exercise, is one of the single most effective activities to help older adults protect their independence and at the same time reduce their risk of falling.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a slow-moving meditative exercise that began in ancient China, around 500 years ago. Tai Chi combines stress reduction with movement to improve health. Dr. Paul Lam, from Sydney, Australia is a family practice doctor who developed Tai Chi for Arthritis for people with arthritis and older adults with balance problems. Dr. Lam developed the Tai Chi forms with input from rheumatologists and physical therapists. Tai Chi for Arthritis has been adopted as the Tai Chi forms used by the Arthritis Foundation of America; supported by the Arthritis Foundation of Australia and Arthritis Care of UK.
What are the Benefits of Tai Chi?
The U.S. National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that people practice Tai Chi for a variety of health-related purposes, such as:
- Improves balance and decreases the risk for falls, especially in older adults
- Decreases stress
- Helps reduce high blood pressure
- Improves physical condition, muscle strength, coordination and flexibility
- Eases pain and stiffness
- Improves sleep
- Increases sense of well-being and overall wellness
Tai Chi for Arthritis integrates a progressive stepwise teaching method that simplifies and enhances the student’s ability to learn. The teaching method also encourages students through specific, positive feedback and minimal corrections, thus enhancing their enjoyment of learning and creating a sense of achievement. Students should know that it takes both time and effort to learn the various movements contained in this 50-session program. Each session is about 60 minutes long. Most students should experience a learning curve in becoming skilled and eventually mastering the exercise./p>