November 13, 2019
Dr. Paul Lam, a world leader in the field of tai chi for health improvement, recently came to Georgia Tech to meet with TechSAge researchers to discuss technology innovation for improving access to tai chi interventions.
As part of the TechSAge Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (www.techsage.gatech.edu), Dr. Tracy Mitzner and her team are exploring how the physical and social health benefits of group exercise classes can be made accessible at home for those aging with mobility disabilities. Tele-technology, such as video-conferencing software with audio and video exchange, provides opportunities to alleviate many of the barriers these individuals face in participating in group wellness classes. Starting with a presentation about TechSAge and the Telewellness Technologies project, the TechSAge team discussed how their research ties into Lam’s work.
“Research has shown factors like lack of transportation, inaccessible classrooms and buildings, and fear of negative stereotypes play a huge role in the attendance of group classes among older adults, and particularly those with disabilities”, Principal Investigator Tracy Mitzner said during the presentation. “The concept of remote exercise instruction through video is not new, and now using YouTube, other streaming services, and apps, there is potential to target specific population’s needs and capabilities – something Dr. Lam has done well.” The Tai Chi for Health Institute offers a wide range of programs strategically designed for distinct purposes, levels, and conditions, including the evidence-based Tai Chi for Arthritis being used in the TechSAge intervention study.
The presentation was met with praise from Lam. “I was looking for something like what you are doing...You have the structure and we have the know-how.” With a growing online tai chi community that offers subscription-based access to instructional videos and resources, Lam is eager to explore ways to add opportunities for social interaction on this platform. Afterwards, Lam enjoyed a photoshoot on the CIDI roof, a campus tour, and a working lunch with the team to discuss project plans as well as new grant opportunities.
TechSAge is excited about the future possibilities of their partnership with Lam, realizing that their research has the potential to make a greater impact through his global network. The partnership is an important step towards their goal of supporting the health and wellness of older adults with disabilities, who are often left out or overlooked in the design of group fitness activities and social health.
Lam lives in Sydney, Australia and founded the Tai Chi for Health Institute in 2010 with his colleagues. As a family physician, and tai chi practitioner and teacher for more than 40 years, he spends his time committed to promoting tai chi for health improvement by conducting workshops in various countries, trainings, and researching benefits of tai chi.