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Tai chi

Study: Tai Chi is effective symptomatic treatment for peripheral neuropathy

Friday, January 26, 2007 by: Beau Hodai
Tags: tai chi, alternative therapies, neuropathy


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(NewsTarget) The next time you’re out walking your dog, or taking a leisurely stroll by your neighborhood park, you may look up and see a group of people moving with arms and legs outstretched, like large, slow, praying manti. These people are not practicing their new slow dance craze routines, they are practicing Tai Chi, a soft martial arts exercise that practitioners say enhances mental and physical health.

According to a recent study, a new application has been found for the venerable Chinese exercise: the treatment of the effects of peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a systematic degenerative condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, which is responsible for the transmission of signals from the brain and spinal cord to all other parts of the body.

The study, conducted and funded by the Louisiana State University’s department of Kinesiology, was launched in 2004 by LSU professor of kinesiology, Li Li. Initially, the study was only intended to have a duration of a few months, but because of the effectiveness of the treatment, it has persisted to date.

“People wouldn’t come if it wasn’t doing something,” said Li. “I mean, some of these people travel 50 to 100 miles round trip just to make it to our classes. For many of them, if they couldn’t come to our sessions, which are offered free of charge, they couldn’t afford to go anywhere else.”

The group currently has roughly 75 participants. Though, as word of the effectiveness of Tai Chi on the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy spreads, the waiting list to join the group grows.

There are 150 individuals in the Baton Rouge area alone waiting to join the study.

“I have really been helped by the program. My legs felt like they had bands around them and my feet would burn constantly,” said Marian King, who has been a participant in the group for the past nine months. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve only had two episodes of severe burning and the bands, where as it was on a daily basis before.”

“Tai Chi is an outstanding form of therapeutic body movement that helps prevent numerous degenerative diseases,” said Mike Adams, a natural health author. “Tai Chi boosts circulation, immunity, mental alertness, strength and balance, while calming the mind and body. It massages internal organs, moves lymph and boosts circulation throughout the entire body.”

However, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a group that sponsors studies of several potential treatments of peripheral neuropathy (most of which are pharmacological), has yet to embrace Tai Chi as a credible form of treatment.

There is no known cure for peripheral neuropathy.

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