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Health System Launches Tai Chi Program for Arthritis Patients

West Penn Allegheny Health System invites arthritis patients to the Outpatient Care Center in Peters to practice Tai Chi.

Are you living with arthritis? West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) invites individuals living with arthritis to learn about the benefits of practicing Tai Chi.

Two free workshops will introduce participants to the movements of Tai Chi and explain why this combination of exercise and meditation is ideal for those coping with arthritis pain and swelling.

The complimentary sessions will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 4-5 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side, and on Friday, Oct. 14 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the  in Peters Township.

A formal six-week program will subsequently be offered for $60. The six weekly sessions will begin at Allegheny General Hospital on Oct. 26, and in Peters on Oct. 28.

“Tai Chi is an activity that improves balance, strength and coordination while teaching relaxation techniques,” said Fotios Koumpouras, MD, medical director and arthritis specialist at the Lupus Center of Excellence at WPAHS. “This combination has proved to be very valuable to patients who experience stiffness and discomfort associated with arthritis.”

The course is sponsored by WPAHS’ Integrated Medicine Program and Lupus Center of Excellence in cooperation with the Arthritis Foundation. The workshops will be led by J. Gurney Bolster, a certified fitness instructor with a master’s degree in dance and movement therapy. Bolster has 30 years of experience as a dance instructor and has received special training to teach Tai Chi using Arthritis Foundation-approved methods.

The Arthritis Foundation developed its unique Tai Chi course to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis using Sun style Tai Chi, one of the four major recognized styles of Tai Chi.

This style includes exercises that encourage mobility, breathing and relaxation without requiring deep bending or squatting. The program consists of six basic and six advanced movements, which are put together into different combinations.

“This is designed to be easy and comfortable for participants to learn,” said Betsy Blazek-O’Neill, medical director of the Integrated Medicine Program at Allegheny General Hospital. “It’s also relaxing, convenient and gives participants a chance to socialize and meet others facing similar challenges, which are equally important as the physical benefits of Tai Chi.”

For more information, or to register for Tai Chi for Arthritis, call 412-DOCTORS (362-8677).

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