Using remotely delivered Spring Forest Qigong™ to reduce neuropathic pain in adults with spinal cord injury: A non-randomized controlled trial

Author: Ann Van de Winckel, Sydney T Carpentier, Wei Deng, Lin Zhang, Angela Philippus, Kimberley R Monden, Ricardo Battaglino, Leslie R Morse
Conference/Journal: medRxiv
Date published: 2023 Feb 15
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1101/2023.02.11.23285793. , Word Count: 366

The manuscript proposes the feasibility and potential of a remote Qigong intervention to reduce neuropathic pain in adults with spinal cord injury (SCI)-related neuropathic pain.

We determined the feasibility and estimates of efficacy of a remotely delivered Qigong intervention in adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain.

This is a non-randomized controlled trial with outcomes assessed at baseline-, 6- and 12-weeks of Qigong practice, and at 6-weeks and 1-year follow-up.

Completely remote clinical trial.

Adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain, with SCI ≥3 months, with complete or incomplete SCI, and highest neuropathic pain level of >3 on the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS). We used nationwide volunteer sampling.We recruited 23 adults with chronic SCI (7/2021-2/2022). Eighteen participants started the study and completed all study components, including the 6-week follow-up. Twelve participants completed the 1-year follow-up assessment.

Participants practiced the Spring Forest Qigong™ "Five Element Healing Movements" with an online video by combining movement with kinesthetic imagery, at least 3x/week for 12 weeks.

Main outcomes and measures:
To address the feasibility outcome and track adherence, the website automatically monitored the days and duration that the Qigong video was played. Self-report neuropathic pain intensity and SCI-related symptoms such as spasms, functional performance, mood, and body appreciation were also collected.

Eighteen participants, 60±12 years of age, 15±11 years post-SCI had a highest baseline neuropathic pain of 7.94±2.33 on the NPRS, which was reduced to 4.17±3.07 after 12 weeks of Qigong practice (Cohen's d =1.75). This pain relief remained at 6-week and 1-year follow-ups. Participants reported reduced spasm frequency (change score 1.17±1.20, d =0.98) and severity (0.72±1.02, d =0.71), and reduced interference of neuropathic pain on mood (3.44±2.53, d =1.36), sleep (3.39±2.40, d =1.41), and daily activities (3.17±2.77, d =1.14). They had a greater ability to perform functional activities (Patient Specific Functional Scale, 6.68±3.07, d =2.18) and had improved mood (Patient Health Questionnaire-9, 2.33±3.31, d =0.70).

Conclusions and relevance:
Our preliminary data demonstrate the feasibility of Qigong practice in adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain and promising results of neuropathic pain relief and improvement in SCI-related symptoms after Qigong practice.

Trial registration this manuscript refers to the quasi-experimental substudy:
CREATION: A Clinical Trial of Qigong for Neuropathic Pain Relief in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury, NCT04917107 , .

PMID: 36824929 PMCID: PMC9949188 DOI: 10.1101/2023.02.11.23285793