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The 13 Postures of Wheelchair Taijiquan, an innovative program that makes accessible a traditional Chinese martial and healing art to people with ambulatory impairment by transforming the wheelchair from an assistive device into a tool of empowerment, also serves as a model of what can happen when everyday realities for people with disabilities are taken into account in the design of an intervention program. Research in both developed and developing countries shows that too often social and cultural barriers discourage people with physical impairments from participating in fitness activities, despite advances in technology and access. However, following the author's collaboration with the China Disabled Peoples' Federation and the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Committee leading to the introduction of Wheelchair Taijiquan at the Beijing 2008 Olympics/Paralympics Cultural Festival, Wheelchair Taijiquan not only has been embraced by people with disabilities as a popular fitness and recreational programs throughout China, it has become part of China's national program to promote health. Finally, Wheelchair Taijiquan can be practiced as a seated form by anyone looking for a simple, low-cost, low-impact, upper-body exercise; and it already has shown promise in a number of other health care areas, including among the elderly and those with temporary immobility.
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Keywords: Ambulatory impairment; Body/mind health; Cultural considerations; Disabilities; Physical fitness; Tai Chi; Wheelchair Taijiquan

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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