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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Popularity of Tai Chi Leaps in the U.S. (2)

By Joanna Law (People's Daily Online)

16:28, February 27, 2012

The program of the research was different from the Tai Chi programs typically offered by the communities, Li said. Traditionally, a Tai Chi master would instruct students to center themselves by putting their body mass in the centre to avoid being uprooted by opponents. Li’s approach was the opposite. It urged patients to move away from the centre. For example, a patient would be asked to lean forward to a point where he or she must take a step to prevent from falling. Li said their approach focuses more on stimulating people’s muscle responses, particularly the muscles related to postural control.

"Tai Chi is to stable; the approach we take is to unstable, so that we can train people to readapt the movements, and be able to use that movements in a daily life, such as taking steps and reaching out for an object,” Li said. “In other words, we transform traditional Tai Chi to physical therapy that could help people with balance impairment and people who have difficulties in walking.”

Originally from Shanghai, China, Li has been familiar with Tai Chi’s tradition and its benefits. But the idea that Tai Chi may possibly help Parkinson’s disease patients first came up when a couple of Li’s friends were diagnosed with the disorder. Seeing his friends experienced frequent falls, jerky movements, and difficulties in walking, Li, a long-time Tai Chi practitioner, began to think Tai Chi could potentially open the door to Parkinson’s disease.

"As a researcher, I also want to understand how this traditional exercise could help people, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases. I started to get interested in how Tai Chi can be used to solve severe problems that people face these days,” he said.

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