ACH TAI CHI PROGRAM EFFECTIVE FOR PARTICIPANTS
By Shannon Harsh, The Alliance Review, Published August 6, 2014
Six months ago, Alliance Community Hospital's Outpatient Therapy Department hoped its new program of simple, purposeful movement would make a difference to participants. With several tai chi classes now complete, that hope is becoming a reality.
Instructor and athletic trainer Lindsay Reynolds said the classes have been very successful thus far and are accomplishing what she had hoped.
She leads both a beginning class on the basics of tai chi and an ongoing class for more advanced moves, both in six-week increments.
"Mostly I hear about improvements at home, such as, 'Now I can carry the cat up the steps' or 'I can do certain household chores better than I could before,' but we have seen improvements with balance and flexibility in the class as well," she described. "We don't always notice it until someone comes back and says, 'Hey, guess what I did this weekend,' which is good -- that is the goal."
She said participants quickly begin to notice where their weakness and balance issues are, especially when switching from the left to right side.
Mary Wilson, of Alliance, said she talked longtime friend Marge Bezon into getting in the class with her since they both had some health issues. "I thought this might be the perfect kind of slow exercise movement that we could do," said Wilson, who was in the most recent ongoing class. "There's not a lot of bending or stretching. It's an easy kind of exercise for people with some health issues."
Bezon, who has artificial knees, shoulders and hip, said she needed something easy, and tai chi has been just that. She said it has also helped her make improvements in her physical well-being.
"My balance is better. I have asthma, and even the breathing (has improved)," she said. "When I first started, I did a lot more sitting than I do now," Bezon said.
Wilson said she has also seen improved balance and better movement. "That's a big part of it because my balance is terrible, and it makes you think and concentrate because you have to remember which is your right and which is your left, so I think that's been real helpful."
Classmate Nancy Cooper, of Hanoverton, said she has also seen improvement with her balance. Unlike Wilson and Bezon, who heard about the program and decided to sign up, Cooper said she was doing physical therapy at ACH and was referred to the class to help her with her balance issues.
"I think it makes you feel better about yourself once you learn the movements," Cooper said.
Olive Hensley, of Alliance, was intrigued by the class when she saw it firsthand. "I fell and shattered my wrist and I was here in physical therapy and saw them doing it (tai chi)," she said. Since signing up, Hensley, who had previously had surgery on both knees, said her knees are much better and she has also seen improvements in her balance.
Ede Carretta, of Alliance, said the class has helped with her bad knee as well. Carretta said she was concerned that anything aerobic would be hard on her knee, but since starting tai chi, there had been practically no pain in her knee and it hadn't "collapsed" on her. "I didn't think it would (improve) with the slow movement, but it does make a difference," Carretta said. "It was just shocking to me."
Eric O'Brien, orthopedic and sports medicine coordinator, said he is encouraged by the results and indicated staff members may incorporate tai chi into concussion treatment.
"Who would think something so simple would be so functional and so beneficial," O'Brien said. "But according to their reports, they're doing great, so it's exceeded my expectations."
The next set of classes begins Sept. 2. Cost is $30 for the six-week program. To sign up, contact Outpatient Therapy at 330-823-8839.