University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics using Tai Chi for improving balance in older people

CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics began offering Tai Chi as a way to help older people with fall prevention and mobility.

Albert Persson (right) leads a Tai Chi class aimed at helping older people reduce their chances of a serious fall. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

A number of studies have shown a correlation between older people using Tai Chi and reduced chances of suffering from a fall.

The program began at UIHC's Iowa River Landing location in Coralville last year as a pilot, but this year the course is led by a retired nurse- who also participated in the class last year for himself.

Albert Persson said when last year's class ended, he waited until organizers asked who would be willing to take over as the instructor; naturally, he volunteered himself for the role.

Persson said with his previous background in health care and seeing the success of the program, he wanted to continue to help others.

"I was a nurse for 31 years," Persson said. "So I thought well, I've instructed families, I've instructed individuals and small groups- I actually went out and talked to EMT's about how to kind of manage a potential broken neck and things like that. And I was very nervous for those, but hey, I'm retired. I can relax somewhere."

Persson said the reason he believes more people should focus their energy on Tai Chi is because of the proven success in rigorous studies, as well as an opportunity for people to better themselves.

"It's really good for you, and it's going to be your own speed, and your own pace, and your own style, and your own visualization for this kind of success," Persson said. "It's not going to have as many falls coming into the emergency rooms. As a nurse of 31 years, I can attest to that."

People more than 80 years old have participated in the class, and organizers said they were able to do it well and practice at home. The class at UIHC is full, but for more information about the program and future classes, visit their website.