Tai Chi Fall Prevention Program at CMFPL


We are fortunate to have Suffolk County’s only Level I Trauma Center at Stony Brook University’s Medical Center.  To better serve our communities, their free, in-person injury prevention programs offer community education on best practices to enhance safety, prevent injuries, and save lives. 

Overseen by Kristi Ladowski, MPH, Injury Prevention and Outreach co-coordinator at Stony Brook Medicine, and delivered by volunteers, staff, and community organizations, their programs like Stop the Bleed training, Fall/Injury Prevention and Preventing Car Crashes strive to help people stay out of emergency rooms.  One of these programs, Tai Chi For Arthritis, led by Suffolk County Department of Health’s Linda Bohman, has found a home at Center Moriches Free Public Library.

A fall at any age may cause lasting injury; for those over 60, it can be life-altering, even fatal. Mobility issues, including those brought on by arthritis, in those over 65 often lead to falls or motor-vehicle injuries.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 36 million reports of falls among older adults each year and more than 32,000 deaths.  One-in-five of these causes broken bones or head trauma.  To reduce risk, the CDC recommends exercise to improve leg strength and balance, especially activities like tai chi.

What is tai chi?  It began in China as a martial art. Over time, it evolved into an evasive art that taught practitioners to use energy in more efficient ways that create harmony, to use energy to reduce conflict by evading it. In turn, it offered health benefits to practitioners through integrating mind, body, and spirit with one’s environment.

It is a philosophy of living that takes its influence from nature, where we learn to focus on “gi” (pronounced “chi”), energy that gives us our vital life force through breath.  It embraces balance and a harmony that resides between the pairing of opposites—yin and yang—to create oneness.  It teaches us to work toward completion and integration instead of struggle and disconnection.

Doctor Paul Lam, the man credited with developing this program, grew up in China under harsh conditions, including malnutrition, which left him nearly crippled by painful arthritis in his mid-20s.  He trained as a physician after he left China, and while in practice discovered that tai chi changed his life. Over time, he has developed an evidence-based program using scientific outcomes with demonstrated health benefits, including improved balance, greater ease of movement, general well-being and fewer falls.  Since it is a program designed to build life enhancement, one should expect to have at least 16 sessions to see its benefits.

Among these are reduced arthritis pain, enhanced balance through shifting weight transfer, greater ease of movement, reduced risk of falling, as well as greater coordination between hands and feet.  It is a lifetime activity, done without equipment and, once learned, may be practiced anywhere. It is especially welcoming for beginners since the forms taught are slow and are designed to be learned over a lifetime of practice. It is beautiful to observe and soothing to practice, a choreography in which less is best.  And while it may be a solo practice, it also builds community.

CMFP, one of the few libraries in Suffolk County willing to accommodate the program, will have a new tai chi session starting Tuesday, March 5 through April 30.  For more information contact the CMFPL reference desk at (631) 878-0940. 


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here