Improving Quality of Life for People With Chronic Conditions: The Example of T'ai Chi and Multiple Sclerosis

Author: Husted Cynthia//Pham Laura//Hekking Angelina//Niederman Robert
Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders in the Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara
Conference/Journal: Altern Ther Health Med
Date published: 1999
Other: Volume ID: 5 , Issue ID: 5 , Pages: 70-74 , Word Count: 207

The greatest needs of people with chronic conditions are long-term care, maximized independence, and improved quality of life. With conventional medicine becoming increasingly expensive, depersonalized, and unable to adequately meet such needs, many with chronic conditions are seeking health promotion strategies to effectively manage their symptoms.

An 8-week T’ai Chi program was conducted to explore psychosociaI and physical benefits for those with multiple sclerosis.

Nonrandomized, noncontroIled pilot study conducted at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco, Calif.
19 patients with multiple sclerosis studied T'ai chi.

Main Outcome Measures
Walking speed (distance=25ft), hamstring flexibility, and psychosocial well being as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey.
Walking speed increased by 21% and hamstring flexibility increased by 28%. Patients experienced improvements in vitality, social functioning, mental health, and ability to carry out physical and emotional roles.
This pilot program was conducted entirely on a volunteer basis and led to the implementation of several additional T'ai Chi classes for people with multiple sclerosis across the United States. T'ai Chi and other health promotion programs offer help toward achieving the goals of increasing access to services, maximizing independence, and improving quality of life for people with chronic disab2ing conditions.