Shelly Mesure, MS, OTR/L

I was recently watching one of the news channels and they talked about a study that was conducted that showed that men who performed tai chi exercises lived longer. While I’m not a male, sign me up!

I went online and found the study and it tracked elderly men: “Chinese men who practiced tai chi were less likely to die over a five-year period than men, who didn’t exercise at all, in a new study. Tai Chi combines slow motion exercise and mind concentration to focus on movement. That itself can reduce your stress and, of course, it will increase your flexibility and endurance.”

A popular trend growing among physical and occupational therapy is to incorporate many of these alternative medicine and exercises into our daily treatment approaches. I have attended several continuing education courses related to the therapeutic use of yoga for new ideas for treatment myself. I might not recommend for the elderly patient to perform the downward dog position, but there are many great poses and benefits to this type of treatment.

As I was researching the benefits of tai chi further, I also found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also recommended the program, “Exercise-based Interventions: Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance.” This program highlights the benefits of performing tai chi to help provide better balance skills and relate it to fall prevention.

Tai chi is typically performed in a social environment, usually outdoors with trees, flowers and gardens as the surrounding area. Wouldn’t it be great to create home exercise programs based around tai chi exercises that also included socialization as part of the goal?

And, lastly, wouldn’t it be really fun to develop a tai chi restorative nursing program or activities program within the skilled nursing facility that encouraged outdoor exercising?

Shelly Mesure (“measure”), MS, OTR/L, is the senior vice president of Orchestrall Rehab Solutions and owner of A Mesured Solution Inc., a rehabilitation management consultancy with clients nationwide. A former corporate and program director for major long-term care providers, she is a veteran speaker and writer on therapy and reimbursement issues.