||From medical, philosophical and martial arts’ origins centuries ago, Tai Chi Chuan is currently one of the most effective and widely practiced mind and body exercise models in the world. Since 2005, when a wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan program was developed and introduced in China, the practice of wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan has quickly gained enormous popularity in both “able-bodied” and “disabled” populations in China.
This presentation based on the author’s participatory and ethnographic experience working with various organizations in China and elsewhere to develop a wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan program, discusses public responses to wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan, and how people with disabilities performing wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan challenge/reshape the perceptions of “able-bodied” populations about physical and psychological space and limitation. This presentation suggests that the growing popularity of wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan is not only based on its therapeutic effects for wheelchair practitioners, but also to growing understandings about the enormous health and clinical implications that the practices of wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan offer to the general population.
During recent years, healthcare professionals from various disciplines including physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic, therapeutic recreation therapy and acupuncture have extended seated Tai Chi Chuan into their therapeutic interactions with patients who are temporarily mobility-challenged due to diseases or injures. Various forms of seated Tai Chi Chuan have also emerged as a self-care method for office workers at their desks, residents of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and senior centers. Thus, a disability-engendered innovation has widening applications and creative implications.