Medical Qigong is a non-drug therapy showing great promise when integrated with pulmonary rehabilitation and traditional non-drug therapy to reduce COPD exacerbations.
Non-drug therapies for COPD are currently limited to environmental hygiene with HEPA filters & air ionizers (COPD Foundation), good hand-washing, pulmonary toilet (hydration), and pulmonary rehabilitation. Qigong may be a significant addition:
One study on Qigong showed improvements in forced expiratory volume, walking distance, and activity tolerance in the Tai Chi Qigong (TCQ) program vs. no change in the conventional exercise group vs. a decline in function in the control group. In another study, there was improvement in all functional capacity & quality of life scales in the Health Qigong group vs. the convention pulmonary rehabilitation program.
COPD Screening / Measure of Treatment Success
The St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire [SGRQ] documents patient experiences with COPD, and the impact of care on their quality of life. This type of screening is measures the success of therapy by comparing:
Traditional Pulmonary Rehab
The goal is for patients who have been referred by their providers to Medical Qigong for "Restorative Therapy" to have equivalent or better outcomes compared to the patients who 1] receive traditional pulmonary rehab, 2] are non-compliant with pulmonary rehab, 3] receive minimal benefit from pulmonary rehab, 4] can not tolerate pulmonary rehab.
There are many ancient forms of QiGong that are modified or specialized to accommodate functional status [e.g. immobile or chair-bound patients]
and disease processes [e.g. COPD, chronic liver disease etc.]- this is Medical Qigong! Unfortunately, Medical Qigong is not accessible to everyone, which is a frustration. Yet, there are many Medical Qigong videos & DVDs that are easy to follow at home. The video above is by a pulmonary rehab Nurse Specialist. Respiratory, Occupational, and Physical Therapy assistants etc. can be trained to teach patients Medical QiGong exercises as well. Tai Chi is not QiGong but it is modified and therapeutic as well.
Integrative Medicine Tip:
Macrolide antibiotics, which are also anti-inflammatory, benefit patients with a variety of airway diseases. In a large randomized clinical trial chronic dosing of a macrolide antibiotic was given to COPD patients for a year. The results were significant for decreased COPD exacerbations, decreased exacerbation severity, and improved overall daily function. The drawback was that the treatment resulted in hearing decline in a small percentage of patients, and possible microbial resistance to macrolide antibiotics.
Medical Qigong by OT Assistants TaiQi Chair Form DVD series