Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Tai Chi for Fall Prevention
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form that has changed over time to focus on well- being. It is taught as a series of slow, relaxed, gentle movements. It also incorporates meditation, breathing and physical activity.
There are many benefits to tai chi, such as lowering blood pressure, managing pain, improving balance, and lowering the number of falls. Research shows that when practiced often, tai chi also can improve balance, sleep, breathing, heart function, and muscle strength, and can improve your ability to do activities representative of daily living.
Because tai chi can improve balance, it also reduces falls. With better balance, we can catch ourselves before we fall, and we can reach for things and not lose our balance. Because tai chi improves the ability to catch ourselves before we fall, it also reduces the number of injuries from falls, such as head injuries, broken bones, and cuts and bruises. Tai chi also strengthens the muscles in our core that keep us from falling.
A great feature of tai chi is that it does not require special equipment. It can be practiced sitting or standing, or in a wheelchair. It also is safe for most individuals, even those who are older or sick.
Tai chi is available at Truman VA. Currently, tai chi classes are offered through VA Video Connect and, in the near-future, in-person classes. Tai chi via telemedicine also will be offered. The two registered nurse tai chi instructors tailor their classes to meet each individual Veteran’s needs.
Veterans can call the Patient Education Center at (573) 814-6273 and speak with schedulers to learn more about Truman VA’s tai chi offerings.