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Physical Therapy for Balance: MS Patients Try Tai Chi

May 02, 2013

There are many multiple sclerosis symptoms that have been discussed this week on the Disability Living Blog. One side effect MS patients often experience is difficulty keeping their balance. Sometimes, uncontrollable spastic tendencies and fatigue can cause a person with MS to lose his or her orientation.


While medications aid this symptom of MS, physical therapies and exercises are encouraged to keep the body and mind strong. After all, losing one’s orientation can be harmful to his or her physical health and self-esteem.

What is Tai Chi?

Have you heard about the practice of Tai Chi? This gentle martial art practice may help persons with MS regain their sense of balance, as well as confidence.

A basic principal of Tai Chi promotes physical balance as a result of the mind and body working in unity. In fact, some balancing exercises are done from a seated position.

The ancient exercise has been known for centuries as beneficial to one’s overall health. Tai Chi strings together a series of body stretches and stances that “relieve physical effects of stress on the body and mind.” In addition, the motions taught through this training increase an individual’s ability to control his or her movement, which is often welcomed by MS patients who sometimes feel they’ve lost control of simple physical functions.

Ultimately, Tai Chi can be an effective light exercise for most people with multiple sclerosis symptoms because of its effectiveness in the areas of coordination and balance, as well as endurance and muscle development.

Can Tai Chi Alleviate Symptoms of MS?

Medical research is beginning to acknowledge Tai Chi as a beneficial physical therapy for people with multiple sclerosis. In fact, The Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society recently awarded a grant to the founder of a yoga studio in Quebec, to develop Tai Chi therapies specifically for patients with MS.

In addition to Dr. Denis Gris’ entrepreneurial venture, he works at the University of Sherbrooke as an assistant professor. Through his medical research, Dr. Gris has dedicated much time and energy to combining science with ancient exercises to better understand if it is possible to protect the cells of a human body from inflammation.

In a press release celebrating the grant Dr. Gris received, it states, “Tai Chi has already proved a wonderful activity for people with disabling conditions. It promotes balance, muscle tone, focus and stress relief.”

Begin Your Tai Chi Therapy

If you are interested in knowing more about how practicing Tai Chi may alleviate your MS symptoms, here are three things you can do to get started.

1. Discuss the troubles you have with balance and sense of orientation with your doctor.

2. Ask your physician or physical therapist is Tai Chi is an effective exercise for your specific MS symptoms.

3. Sign up for a Tai Chi class with a trained and certified martial arts instructor. Professionals in this field can show you the correct movements, and help you learn how to adjust the poses to your body’s abilities.

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