The Fountain of Youth isn’t a fountain, it’s a ‘form’

Mike Simpson leads a group of seniors in Tai Chi.

The Fountain of Youth isn’t a fountain, it’s a ‘form’
February 28
10:56 2019

By Mike Simpson

One blustery Sunday morning a long-time friend of Suzy’s stopped her as she was about to sit down in her accustomed pew. “Suzy,” she exclaimed, “what’s happened to you? I never expected to see you in church on a bad weather Sunday or walk in so effortlessly.”

Suzy smiled, reflecting on her recent physical changes. Over the course of several months, she had been able to discard her walker and her cane. Her balance had become much steadier and her confidence had increased greatly. Even her chronic migraines had disappeared.

Beaming, she replied, “I’ve been practicing Tai Chi for Arthritis.”

Suzy was one of the early participants in an eight-week class sponsored by the Shepherd’s Center of Winston-Salem. Starting last September, dozens of people gathered twice weekly to practice the famous exercise form called “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention” (TCA) developed by Dr. Paul Lam, a physician who had been completely disabled by arthritis as a youth. Through the practice of Tai Chi, Lam was able not only to avoid the wheelchair doctors had predicted for him as a teen, but recovered the full, lithe movement he still possesses in his seventies. Recognizing the great need faced by individuals who suffered from the more than 100 types of arthritis, Lam perfected and shared TCA through his international organization, Tai Chi for Health. Forty years and hundreds of medical research studies later, TCA has been endorsed as worthwhile in helping alleviate arthritis symptoms by, among others, the Arthritis Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control, The National Institute of Health, UNC School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.

In the course of discovering TCA’s efficacy with arthritis, researchers – and folks like Suzy who practice the form – have also discovered a multitude of other health benefits. These include lowered blood pressure, decreased depression, improved mental focus, enhanced confidence, improved lung function in COPD patients, improved sleep, and numerous other health benefits. Importantly, these positive changes are not simply anecdotal but have been demonstrated repeatedly in scientific studies.

Lam and his research associates have been tireless in developing other Tai Chi forms intended to address specific health concerns. Recently the Shepherd’s Center began offering a new form, Tai Chi for Memory (TCM), which is being taught here for the first time in North Carolina.

Scientific studies are now underway to determine the efficacy and the extent to which this new form improves memory function and delays memory loss. In the meantime, TCA and TCM are offered twice weekly at the Shepherd’s Center.

As for Suzy, having learned TCA and TCM, she’s excited about the possibility of becoming an instructor herself. In particular, she’s looking forward to instructor training for Tai Chi for Rehabilitation, which will be offered this August at the Shepherd’s Center.

Mike Simpson is a certified instructor in Tai Chi for Arthritis, as well as an instructor in water aerobics, for the Shepherd’s Center. For information about these Tai Chi for Health forms, contact the Shepherd’s Center at 336-748-0217.

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