Author: Ann Van de Winckel1, Sydney T Carpentier2, Wei Deng2, Lin Zhang3, Angela Philippus4, Ricardo Battaglino4, Leslie R Morse4
1 Division of Physical Therapy, Division of Rehabilitation Science, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States.
2 Division of Rehabilitation Science, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States.
3 Division of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States.
4 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States.
Conference/Journal: Front Physiol
Date published: 2023 Aug 31
Other: Volume ID: 14 , Pages: 1222616 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fphys.2023.1222616. , Word Count: 344
Introduction: Approximately 69% of 299,000 Americans with spinal cord injury (SCI) suffer debilitating chronic neuropathic pain, which is intractable to treatment. The aim of this study is to determine feasibility, as the primary objective, and estimates of efficacy of a remotely delivered Qigong intervention in adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain, as the secondary objective. Methods: We recruited 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), using nationwide volunteer sampling. Using a non-randomized controlled trial design, participants practiced Spring Forest Qigong's "Five Element Qigong Healing Movements" (online video) by combining movement to the best of their ability with kinesthetic imagery, at least 3x/week for 12 weeks. Adherence was automatically tracked through the Spring Forest Qigong website. Outcomes of neuropathic pain intensity (NPRS) were assessed weekly, and SCI-related symptoms were assessed at baseline, 6, and 12 weeks of Qigong practice and at 6-week and 1-year follow-ups. Results: We recruited 23 adults with chronic SCI (7/2021-2/2023). In total, 18 participants started the study and completed all study components, including the 6-week follow-up. Twelve participants completed the 1-year follow-up assessment. Feasibility was demonstrated through participants' willingness to participate, adherence, and acceptability of the study. Mean age of the 18 participants was 60 ± 12 years, and they were 15 ± 11 years post-SCI with the highest baseline neuropathic pain of 7.94 ± 2.33, 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), reduced interference of neuropathic pain on mood (3.44 ± 2.53, d = 1.36), sleep (3.39 ± 2.40, d = 1.41), daily activities (3.17 ± 2.77, d = 1.14), greater ability to perform functional activities (6.68 ± 3.07, d = 2.18), and improved mood (2.33 ± 3.31, d = 0.70) after Qigong. Discussion: Remote Spring Forest Qigong's "Five Element Qigong Healing Movements" practice is feasible in adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain, with promising prolonged results of neuropathic pain relief and improvement in SCI-related symptoms after Qigong practice. Clinical trial registration: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04917107, identifier NCT04917107.
Keywords: Qigong; autonomic function; body awareness; mood; neuropathic pain; spasm; spinal cord injury.
PMID: 37719467 PMCID: PMC10500194 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2023.1222616