Community <i>qigong</i> for People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Pragmatic Feasibility Study

Author: Lita Buttolph1, Joshua Corn1,2,3,4, Douglas Hanes1, Ryan Bradley1, Angela Senders1,5
1 Helfgott Research Institute, National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR, USA.
2 Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, OR, USA.
3 AOMA School of Integrative Medicine, Austin, TX, USA.
4 Whole Systems Research Institute, Portland, OR, USA.
5 Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Altern Complement Med
Date published: 2021 Mar 26
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/acm.2020.0481. , Word Count: 239

Objectives: qigong, a traditional Chinese mind-body exercise, has been shown to improve balance and gait in several neurological conditions; however, community-delivered qigong has never been assessed for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The authors assessed the feasibility of community qigong classes for people with MS and explored outcomes of balance, gait, and quality of life (QOL). Design: Twenty adults with MS were randomly assigned to 10 weeks of community qigong classes or wait-list control. Settings/Location: Portland, Oregon. Subjects: People with MS. Intervention: Community qigong classes. Outcome measures: Feasibility criteria included recruitment, retention, adherence, and ability to participate in qigong movements. Secondary outcome measures included physical tests of mobility, gait, and balance and participant-reported mobility, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and QOL. Results: Recruitment of eligible and interested people with MS was feasible. Retention in the trial was 60%. Completers attended a mean of 7 of 10 classes. All completers participated with no or minor modifications to qigong movements. Exploratory within-group analyses showed trends toward improved mental health, QOL, and reduced fatigue and depression. Several participants spontaneously reported improved energy, flexibility, sleep, and mobility. Conclusions: Community qigong may be a feasible form of exercise for people with MS. To improve retention and capture potential effects of qigong on physical function and quality of life, future studies might consider pragmatic trials with tiered level classes, simpler forms of qigong, and/or refined inclusion criteria (CTR#: NCT04585659).

Keywords: gait; multiple sclerosis; pragmatic design; qigong.

PMID: 33769837 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2020.0481