Tai Chi wheelchair brings mobility, self-esteem, better health to practitioners

April 17, 2012, University of South Florida (USF Health)

An innovative 13-postures Tai Chi designed for wheelchair users is described in the current issue of Technology and Innovation- Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.

The innovation has brought the traditional Chinese martial and healing arts to people with ambulatory impairment, thanks to the technology and program developed by Zibin Guo, PhD, of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

"Too often, social and cultural barriers discourage people with physical disabilities from participating in fitness activities," said Zibin Guo, PhD, who collaborated with the China Disabled People's Federation and the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Committee to introduce the Tai Chi Wheelchair at the 2008 Beijing Olympics/Paralympics Cultural Festival. "Wheelchair Tai Chi can be practiced seated for those needing simple, low-impact, upper-body exercise by integrating wheelchair motion with the gentle, dynamic flowing movements of Tai Chi. It lifts the spirit and give practitioners a sense of command of space."

The 13 Posture Wheelchair Tai Chi incorporates 13 of the 24 Tai Chi movements and, according to Dr. Guo, the 13 Postures of Wheelchair Tai Chi transforms the wheelchair from an assistive device to a tool of empowerment and artistic expression.

A demonstration event from the 2008 Beijing Olympics/Paralympics Cultural Festive can be seen here:

Tai Chi (Taijiquan) has been part of Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years, but has not been an accessible form of martial arts, therapy or exercise for those with disabilities. Dr. Guo estimates that 83 million people in China are living with disabilities, particularly those disabilities that limit mobility. Most of the 83 million live in rural China where "social and economic development lags behind urban areas," he said.

He also cites a National that suggests that about 73 percent of people in the U.S. with disabilities have no or infrequent physical activity.

"Studies conducted in China and elsewhere suggest that these individuals, and especially wheelchair users, have significantly lower self-esteem and are more vulnerable to depression," explained Dr. Guo. "The rationale behind developing Wheelchair Tai Chi as a fitness and recreational alternative for people with ambulatory impairment was first based on the documented benefits of Tai Chi in terms of health, accessibility, low cost and acceptance in the popular culture. Second, it was based on the perceived benefits for health and fitness that a modified Tai Chi could have for people with ambulatory impairment."

Wheelchair Tai Chi movements allow a wide range of lower back and hip movements, said Dr. Guo. Also, the movements help promote upper body mobility and internal circulation. Vertical and horizontal circles improve and stimulate the rotation and range of motion for the torso, waist, back, shoulders, arms and wrists.

"The slow, guided muscle movement has a way of helping to reinforce the muscle patterns that may not have been present before," said Dr. Glen F. Haban, a neuropsychologist at Siskin Hospital for Rehabilitation in Chattanooga when commenting on early clinical studies related to Tai Chi.

Explore further: Tai chi could be key to overcoming cognitive effects of chemotherapy

More information: www.cognizantcommunication.com … /content/article/476

Related Stories

Tai chi could be key to overcoming cognitive effects of chemotherapy

June 6, 2011
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11.4 million Americans are currently living with cancer. While cancer treatments are plentiful, many have negative side effects. Previous studies have indicated that a significant ...

Older subjects who regularly practice Tai Chi found to have better arterial compliance

April 3, 2012
Exercise which can achieve both cardiovascular function and muscle strength "would be a preferred mode of training for older persons", say investigators

Tai Chi program helps Parkinson's disease patients

February 8, 2012
An Oregon Research Institute (ORI) exercise study conducted in four Oregon cities has shown significant benefits for patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease. In an original article published in the February 9, ...

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.