Therapeutic “Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance” fall prevention program case study
After years of drifting along with mediocre recruiting results, and moderate retention in a tai chi for seniors class offered in local community settings, I completed a project I’d been working on for some time. That work resulted in this CE workshop for Physical and Occupational Therapists, Recreation Therapists, and Personal and Fitness Trainers.
The timing for this “new” approach is exquisite, as the media is announcing 10,000 retirements per week: more and more people are moving up in years and will begin to experience diminishing functional capabilities, including the abilities needed to retain an active and Independent lifestyle.
With years of research behind it, “Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance” is a CDC recognized and recommended approach to reducing falls through functional balance training. In our daily lives we move through space in ways that challenge our ability to recognize our body’s position in space, and move it safely from place to place. “Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance” trains these abilities, with the resultant functional outcome of a potential 55% reduction in the rates of falling: It does a good job in training balance.
In following the Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance protocol, I was able to establish a framework where one group that had consistently enrolled 12-20 people (1x per week) for over 10 years, swelled to that “same” group (of 23) now enrolled for 2x per week. A second “group” went from 4 “classes” of 6-10 people (some at 3x per week) suddenly swelled to six “classes” over-enrolled (more than 14 per class), with a waiting list. Over the course of the Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance protocol specified period of time (4 months), I had more than 1400 “cheeks in seats” involving some 70 people, in two locations ( 8 hours per week)…with plenty of time to address other teaching obligations. I won’t tell you what amount of money was charged for these classes, but if you used the protocol estimate of $4.50 per class (some were charged more, some were charged less), that’s nearly $400 for one day’s effort. That amount is also far below the amount of money chargeable for small group exercise…Therx:Other!
Teaching Tai Chi is not only about money, but also about helping people achieve their goals and live out their dreams. Too often, I hear so much about “abstract” ideas, intangible purpose, and infinite, unending time frames,…THIS Tai Chi program offers specific, achievable goals over a specified (relatively short) time frame (with statistically significant, clinically proven outcomes). Using the protocol, pre and post test functional ability measurements show each student exactly what progress has been made in reducing fall risk. Anecdotal and measurable confidence in ability goes up, and participants have fun with peers . Once started, students report a desire to continue exercising.
This table shows the numerical data associated with these two “classes”, the first 8 columns reflect each of the 8 groups, with the ninth column showing the overall “outcomes”. Functional abilities measures were significantly improves for “Functional Reach Test” and “50 Foot Speedwalk Test”. An exit “Satisfaction Survey” with a 4 point scale resulted in a score of 3.95.
|Class Average Age||87||76||87||75||80||79||70||70||78|
|Program Average Age||82||78||83||82||80||79||73||73||78.75|