Reasons YOU should take Drevna Physical Therapy’s Tai Chi Fortius Class

by Jennifer L. Rice, October 5, 2018

Dr. Jennifer Rice

Every year, about 28% of US seniors report a fall (1). Two out of five falls result in injuries leading to an ER visit, hospitalization or death. Falls in adults, 65 years and older, are associated with loss of independence, premature mortality and large health care costs. Therefore, prevent falls is paramount as we age, and physical therapist are the optimal medical professionals to evaluate a person's fall risk and implement preventative or specific exercises to keep you safe. A systematic review was performed in 2017 and found that it decreased the risk of falls in older people (2). Tai Chi is one of the ways physical therapist are addressing fall risks within all age ranges.

Tai Chi is a centuries-old Chinese martial art that involves graceful movements (2). People performing Tai Chi have to transition between different postures in a focused, slow manner, while being mindful of their body and balance. Research is suggesting that Tai Chi may be more beneficial than typical strength training and aerobics for preventing falls among seniors (1). One of the latest research results compared combined aerobics, strength training and balance drills against a Tai Chi centered program and the results showed that the Tai Chi program reduced falls nearly a third better than the combined program (5). People who participated in the combined program gained important benefits such as improved strength and body awareness, however, the Tai Chi group improved both in conjunction with proprioception. Proprioception is the ability of the body to control itself in space, basically a fancy word for balance.

The movement of Tai Chi requires people to control a purposeful movement in multiple planes or directions, while traditional exercise programs focus more on straight planes or a forward and backward motion. The reality of how falls happen is varied and often unpredictable, therefore, it is reasonable to assume training that involves multiple planes of motion would greatly improve one's success in preventing a damaging fall. Tai Chi does just this. You have to be able to control your balance while reaching outside of your base of support, which is challenging as we get older. Therefore, seniors who want to improve his or her balance should practice the art of Tai Chi.

Drevna Physical Therapy Associates offer Tai Chi classes at Fortius. Everyone in their sixties and older should participate in these classes! Don't wait until you have suffered a fall to work on your balance. Participating in Tai Chi under skilled supervision can improve your balance, reduce your risk of falling the in the future and you'll have fun getting some exercise into your day in a stimulating and enjoyable atmosphere!

References:

  1. WebMD News from HealthyDay
  2. Lomas-Vega, R; Obo-Gaitan, E; Moina-Ortega, FJ; Del-Pino-Casado, R (September 2017). "'"Tai Chi for Risk of Falls. A Meta-Anaylsis."" Journal of American Geriatrics Society. 65 (9): 20137-2043.
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Journal JAMA Internal Medicine – September 2018.

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