Tai chi may move stroke patients to new lives - Tucson News Now

Tai chi may move stroke patients to new lives

By Barbara Grijalva - email

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - You might ask why no one in this country has thought of this before.

There could be an easy, inexpensive way to help stroke survivors get their lives back.

A new, local study is underway that could change the way stroke patients are healed.

In this pioneering work, the idea is to find out if the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi can help modern American stroke patients.

"Tai chi has really helped me. Really helped me," says Cecelia Reggio who participated in the  study.

Reggio had a stroke two years ago.

When it hit, she couldn't move a muscle.

"Not even my pinky. Nothing. So I laid there at home on the floor for about 14 hours," she says.

"I had trouble balancing myself, walking. I would get very tired," Reggio remembers.

Reggio has come a long way with modern medicine, and tai chi.

She has gone from using a walker, to a cane, to using nothing.

University of Arizona College of Nursing researcher, Dr. Ruth Taylor-Piliae is the first U.S. researcher to study tai chi for stroke survivors.

The cardiovascular nurse scientist is looking for improvement in physical and mental health, sleep quality and depression.

She already knows what it can do for people with other health conditions.

"Improving balance, in strength, flexibility aerobic endurance, as well as psychological health. Things like lower stress, anxiety, depression," Taylor-Piliae says. 

She says those are the same issues stroke survivors deal with.

Taylor-Piliae says with tai chi, you have to concentrate on your movements, and that also could help a stroke patient.

"After people have a stroke that's one of the great challenges they have is they feel they can't think like they used to or they might have trouble with processing language," she says.

Taylor-Piliae says the results of this and other studies she wants to do could change national public health policy.

Cecelia Reggio can't say enough about tai chi and her quality of life now.

"To me, tai chi is what has helped me physically, mentally and spiritually, and has kept me from losing my mind," Reggio says.

The official findings of this study will be available in two years.

Taylor-Piliae is recruiting more study participants.

To be eligible for the study, the patient must at least 50 years old, and it must have been at least three months since the stroke.

For more information, call 621-7081.    

©2010 KOLD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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