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The Tales of Two Integrative Health Programs with Tai Chi & Qigong

Editor's note: Following the Congress' recognition of Tai Chi and Qigong being part of the integrative healthcare, ATCQA is publishing a series of articles on how Tai Chi and Qigong instructors can promote their classes to healthcare organizations such as hospitals, clinics and so on. To read the articles, sign in your ATCQA account and then click the link for "Study Materials".
February 20, 2015 -
In our January newsletter, we reported that Tai Chi & Qigong are now treated by Congress as part of the integrative health approach, not alternative to medicine. This month, we share the stories of two successful integrative programs that include Tai Chi & Qigong: one is a new integrative center established in Arkansas, and the other is a program that has been running for 20 years in New York City.

Ronald Bruton, M.D.   Gene Nelson, Certified Tai Chi Master Instructor

"The Tai Chi and Qi Gong services have been in great demand"

When the year of 2015 just started, a new medical clinic opened in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Taking a traditional health care approach, combining it with natural practices, the Baxter Regional Center for Integrative Medicine opened after a board of medical professionals and doctors reported patients' high interest in integrative medicine.

The staff at the Center for Integrative Medicine, affiliated with the Baxter Regional Health System, is comprised of a functional medicine doctor, Dr. Ronald Bruton, an ATCQA-certified Tai Chi and Qigong instructor, Mr. Clifford Liu, a licensed acupuncturist, two massage therapists, three yoga instructors and an administrative director.

Since the opening of the clinic, "the Tai Chi and Qi Gong services have been in great demand", says Dr. Bruton. As a doctor who practices conventional medicine, Dr. Bruton credits the success of Tai Chi and Qigong to its "ability to treat people naturally and also quite successfully, with minimal side effects or contraindications".  

"People have always been interested in taking some control of their healthcare, and look for ways outside of traditional Western medicine to accomplish their health goals", says Dr. Bruton.

Specifically to Tai Chi and Qi Gong, there have been local classes for approximately seventeen years.  The most prominent instructor, Mr. Clifford Liu, a Level III ATCQA-certified Instructor, has been helping people with Tai Chi and Qigong successfully and is quite well known to the area. Dr. Bruton and his colleagues at the Baxter Regional Health System think Mr. Liu's breadth of knowledge and documented success made his involvement in the Baxter Regional Center for Integrative Medicine a natural fit. 

"We learn about the audience, their challenges and illnesses"

Knowledge. That is also one of the most important factors for the success of the integrative Tai Chi program at the Burke Rehabilitation & Research Center, whose main campus is in White Plains, NY (it has several satellite centers that serve the greater NYC metropolitan area).

When the program first started 20 years ago, Gene Nelson, an ATCQA-certified Tai Chi Master Instructor, taught a free Tai Chi for Balance program once a week for 10 weeks. The response was so great that the initial free class was expanded to twice a week. Then 10 weeks later, an extremely positive response represented in a 90% return, the program became fee based. In 3 years, it developed into 5 days a week.

Gene and Burke Rehabilitation and Research Center found the same adaptive and adjunctive syllabus lent itself wonderfully to those who were high functioning students with Parkinson's, MS, Recovering stroke etc. They also added 2 seated classes a week for the population that used assisted walking devices.This has been a monumentally successful program with classes always full and waiting lists.

At the same time we added a once a week evening Traditional Tai Chi class which expanded over the following 3 years to 2 nights and 3 classes on Saturday, plus 2 x 2 hour workshops every 6 weeks on a host of Tai Chi & Health related topics. This spring, they are adding a Tai Chi for Cancer survivors and the Principles & Practices of Tai Chi, Qigong and Meditation.

Gene elaborated on how knowledge is the key to their success: "not just understanding the principles of Tai Chi and Qigong, but also the limitations and abilities of the audience. We learn about the audience, their challenges and illnesses. We let go of ego and consulted people. We found our voice by offering free classes and ran surveys of students."

What is really important was that Gene and the other teachers upped their personal training and continued to take advanced classes, especially Qigong and Meditation. Mindfulness training is an extremely important part of these programs. They technically learned about posture from Physical Therapists at Burke so they could talk with two languages (the East and the West).

"Working with an audience with challenges requires more knowledge of comprehensive principles and personal training so what we teach is 100% experiential.  We consider all of our students as training partners", says Gene.




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