Improve Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms with Qigong
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Through Tai Chi, I get a sense of accomplishment and well being, knowing that I can still function relatively well and, in some cases better, than a person with no physical limitations. It has given me an acute awareness of my body, which parts are not aligned and how to bring them back into the whole of the body so that it functions as one unit. Tai Chi has helped me to cope with Parkinson’s and has heightened my enjoyment of life.” – Daniel Loney
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) has received public attention because of its occurrence in a number of celebrities such as Mohammed Ali, Michael J Fox, and Linda Ronstadt. PD is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. There are also psychological effects, especially anxiety and depression. All of these symptoms result in a marked reduction in the quality of life. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as the vast majority of patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.
Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patients. But, since PD is a movement disorder that requires physical therapy for treatment, a mindful movement practice such as Qigong and Tai Chi may be particularly effective. Qigong is ancient mindful movement practices that has been found to produce beneficial effects for a large range of physical and psychological problems. Since, it is a very gentle and safe practice, it is particularly appropriate for the elderly. In addition, falling is the most common cause of injury and death in PD patients and Qigong and Tai Chi have been found to be very effective in lowering the risk of falling. In today’s Research News article “Effects of Health Qigong Exercises on Relieving Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.” See:
or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:
Liu and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of Qigong practice for the elderly with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). They recruited patients with mild to moderate PD and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or treatment as usual combined with Qigong practice, 1-hour per day, 5 days per week, for 10 weeks. They were measured for muscle hardness and elasticity, physical stability, and coordination, prior to, during and after the 10-week practice period.
They found that in comparison to treatment as usual, Qigong practice produced a significant (10%) decrease in muscle hardness on both sides at the interim assessment which continued to improve to 20% at the post treatment assessment. The practice also produced a significant 11% improvement in hand eye coordination at interim and 22% at post-test and a significant 30% improvement in balance at interim and 50% at post-test. Hence, Qigong practice produced marked improvements in muscle elasticity, coordination, and balance in PD patients.
These results are striking and clinically significant. Qigong practice would appear to be an important therapy to be used in addition to traditional drug therapy. It should be noted that there was no another exercise condition tested. So, it cannot be determined if any type of gentle exercise would be as effective as Qigong. Regardless, it is clear that Qigong practice helps to ameliorate the motor deterioration produced by Parkinson’s Disease. Since, it is safe, even for use with the frail elderly, it would appear to be an excellent choice for the treatment of PD.
So, improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms with qigong.
“Tai chi engages both mind and body; you might call it “mindful movement.” It may help patients use undamaged parts of their brains to compensate for the areas that normally control automatic movements such as walking.” – Peter Wayne
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Liu, X. L., Chen, S., & Wang, Y. (2016). Effects of Health Qigong Exercises on Relieving Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2016, 5935782. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/5935782
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Health Qigong on the treatment and releasing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Fifty-four moderate PD patients (N = 54) were randomly divided into experimental and control groups. Twenty-eight PD patients were placed in the experimental group in which the prescribed medication plus Health Qigong exercise will be used as intervention. The other 26 PD patients as the control group were treated only with regular medication. Ten-week intervention had been conducted for the study, and participants completed the scheduled exercises 5 times per week for 60 minutes each time (10 minutes for warm-up, 40 minutes for the exercise, and 10 minutes for cooldown). Data which included the muscle hardness, one-legged blind balance, physical coordination, and stability was collected before, during, and after the intervention. Comparisons were made between the experimental and control groups through the Repeated Measures ANOVA. The results showed that PD patients demonstrate a significant improvement in muscle hardness, the timed “up and go,” balance, and hand-eye coordination (the turn-over-jars test). There were no significant differences between the two groups in gender, age, and course of differences (P < 0.05). The study concluded that Health Qigong exercises could reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve the body functions of PD patients in both the mild and moderate stages. It can be added as an effective treatment of rehabilitation therapy for PD.