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Can Tai Chi help ease cystic fibrosis?

New research into the effects and potential benefits of Chinese martial art Tai Chi on cystic fibrosis sufferers has found that tai chi is one of many activities which benefits those suffering from cystic fibrosis.

Although Tai Chi is technically a marital art, it falls far from the leaps and jumps of other such sports like Tae-Kwan-Do. Instead, it is seen as a form of self-defence through gentle movements, deep breathing and an increased sense of self-awareness.

The exercise is believed to have a wide range of health benefits as it works using slow, controlled meditative movements which develop strength, balance, posture and calm, but its effects on cystic fibrosis have not been closely examined before.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetically inherited disease caused by a faulty gene. This faulty gene manages to control all of the movement of salt and water both in and out of the cells within the body, so this causes the lungs and digestive system to clog with mucus. Sufferers of the disease often find it hard to breathe, eat and digest food, and often require intense treatment.

When Joe Lawlor’s sister Jodie died from cystic fibrosis in 2007 at just 24 years old, he established the Tracie Lawlor Trust for Cystic Fibrosis (TLT4CF). The organisation’s aim was to support and help other cystic fibrosis patients and fundraise for evidence-based complementary medicine for them, which in turn would help improve their quality of life.

Since 2008, the Trust has managed to set up a patient’s assistance fund, which buys equipment for patients including treadmills, bicycles, pulse oximeters, acupuncture treatment and Tai Chi classes.

Neuroscience student Joe told the MailOnline, “We set up the trust to help other patients with cystic fibrosis. We have raised nearly £200,000 since setting up the Trust in 2008.”

Of that money, over £40,000 has been used to fund a study into the effects of Tai Chi on people suffering from cystic fibrosis at London South Bank University at the Royal Brompton hospital.

“It’s really exciting as it has never been done before. It is something I do to help my CF and it helps my mental health and overall feeling of wellbeing. It is excellent at maintaining health for CF patients and improving mental health too.” Joe commented.

Professor Robinson, an academic and professor of traditional Chinese medicine at London South Bank University has said, “Teaching tai chi to young people and parents will provide a self-management tool for habitual home practice throughout life, as a self-management approach, which could provide a useful life skill for many and have a range of health benefits.”

Joe Lawlor summarised saying, “This is a remarkable collaboration culminating in a unique study that could fundamentally change how persons with CF may be empowered to manage the many daily mental and physical aspects of CF.”

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