For those who are not sure what Parkinson’s disease is, it is brain disorder that causes symptoms such as tremors and stiff or jerky movements that can make it very difficult for those with this disease to walk and take part in a number of other physical activities. While estimates vary depending on where you get the information, there are thought to be at least half a million people in the United States alone who have Parkinson’s. While surgery and medication can help in many cases, recent studies show that exercise such as Tai Chi can also have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life.

In a recent study conducted at the Oregon Research Institute of Eugene by Fuzhong Li and his team, 195 patients with mild to moderate cases of Parkinson’s disease were given the opportunity to participate in Tai Chi classes like those taught In Portland Oregon twice a week or to participate in other exercise programs such as resistance training and stretching. Both of these made use of steps and lunges using ankle weights and a weighted vest.

About Tai Chi and Parkinson’s Disease

Li who practices Tai Chi himself as well as teaching other instructors, tailored the Tai Chi classes to meet the needs and abilities of the patients. The majority of the forms used focused on movements such as weight shifting as well as swing and sway. These classes went on for a period of six months, after which participants in all three classes were evaluated to see not only who had benefited the most, but to see where they had benefited in order to produce the most accurate comparison possible.

In a comparison between those who took the Tai Chi Classes and those who took the stretching classes, it was noted that those who took Taiji showed significant improvement in the areas of balance, overall control and walking as well as several other areas. Compared to those who did resistance training, more improvement was noted in balance, stride and control. Also noted in the report was the fact the Tai Chi helped reduce the number of falls in patient compared to those had done the stretching exercises.

Parkinson’s DiseaseThanks, Tai Chi

What’s more, these results continued to improve for the three months after the program ended that were monitored. This study concluded that Tai Chi was a safe, easy to learn form of therapy that can significantly impact the quality of life for many patients who suffer from mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease and should be considered as an alternative form of treatment while under a doctor’s care.

 

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