Tai Chi for Veterans

“Yield to Redirect” – Wheelchair/Adaptive Tai Chi for Veteran Program.

This form of wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan, developed by Dr. Zibin Guo, integrates wheelchair motion (the rolling and turning of the chair) with the dynamic, gentle and flowing Tai Chi Chuan movements making it an ideal form of mind & body fitness program.
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Adaptive Tai Chi Veteran Testimonials

The “Wheelchair/Adaptive Tai Chi for Veterans” program, developed by Dr. Zibin Guo, a medical anthropologist and Tai Chi master, is an evidence based, and innovative method which makes Tai Chi Chuan, a traditional healing and martial art, accessible to veterans of all physical and health conditions. A unique feature of this program is that the same Tai Chi form/movement sequence can be practiced in three different methods making this program a suitable form of Tai Chi practice for veterans with any physical and health conditions, namely: 1) the walking method, 2) the seated method and, 3) wheelchair method.

The seated method offers some unique advantages for people with ambulatory difficulties and those who experience chronic pain. Because the participant is seated, less stamina is required so active therapy can begin sooner. There is no fear of falling or losing one’s balance so the participant is usually much more at ease. These advantages contribute to a better pattern of respiration and heart rate, while encouraging a relaxed and peaceful state of mind. While seated, the participant is better able to rotate the spine without overloading the sacroiliac joints, and all stress on the hips, knees, and ankles is eliminated. In addition, the practice of seated Tai Chi does not require much space or specialized equipment, making it an ideal fitness program for individuals with a host of ailments and various social economic conditions.

The wheelchair method is a newly developed form of Tai Chi practice method designed for people who rely on assistant device. A key feature of this innovative program is that it integrates wheelchair motion (the rolling and turning of the chair) with the dynamic, gentle and flowing movements of TCC in a way that lifts the spirit and gives practitioners a sense of command of space. This form of practice would transform the wheelchair from an assistive device like a cane to a tool of empowerment and artistic expression like ice skates.

Since 2016, funded by the Adaptive Sports Program of USVA, Dr. Guo and Dr. Johnson have been providing instructor training workshops of Wheelchair/adaptive Tai Chi for veterans to healthcare providers at VA medical centers across the country. One of the key rationales of offering instructor training workshop to VA healthcare providers is that many studies have shown that in managing their health, personal as well as social life, Veterans with physical and psychological impairments face enormous challenges that are unique to this population. VA healthcare providers, who are considered as the experts in understanding these unique social and cultural circumstances that many Veterans face, are therefore in the best position to effectively implement this program which intends to promote a healthy and proactive life style for the Veteran’s population.

Since the implementation of the instructor training workshop program, many wheelchair/adaptive Tai Chi classes have been developed and implemented in both clinical and non-clinical settings by workshop’s participants, the responses received from veteran’s participants have been overwhelmingly positive.