Walsall patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis have been able to try adapted Tai Chi to help them manage their long term conditions.
The sessions are being offered to carefully selected patients after Mary McKenzie and Diane Ward, both Assistant Practitioners from the Community Neurological Rehabilitation Team based at Short Heath Clinic, were funded through Walsall Healthcare’s Well Wishers charity to go on a course specialising in the exercise.
Diane, who has worked for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for 14 years, said both she and Mary had an interest in an holistic approach to healthcare.
“While our patients have neurological conditions we’re very keen, through our patient education sessions, to look at all aspects of their physical and mental health so they can better manage these long term conditions,” she said.
“There is evidence that Tai Chi can help with improved balance and can help reduce anxiety and the course was really interesting and useful. I had no idea that adapted Tai Chi could be beneficial to bed-bound patients for example.”
Mary, who has worked for the trust for 26 years, said: “We have been introducing adapted Tai Chi into our patient education sessions as a taster and held our first group session with patients a few weeks ago.
“Tai Chi isn’t just about physical movements but also about breathing and we’ve had some good feedback so far – one patient who wasn’t too sure about trying it actually attended all the sessions in the end and has obviously been able to benefit from it.”
Patients are able to continue the exercises at home.
Sessions will run throughout next year for those patients who are suitable for this approach, identified through the team’s clinicians.
Beth Ashcroft, Team Lead/Physiotherapist added: “Patients had asked us in the past if we could offer Tai Chi and it is thanks to our Well Wishers charity that we’ve been able to fund the training for Diane and Mary.
“This approach is something that is above and beyond what the NHS is expected to provide so without the charity funding we would have struggled to offer this to suitable patients who may find it a real help in their self-management.”