Irrespective of limited evidence, not only traditional physiotherapy, but also a wide array of complementary methods are applied by patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). We evaluated the immediate and sustained effects of Qigong on motor and nonmotor symptoms of PD, using an add-on design. Fifty-six patients with different levels of disease severity (mean age/standard deviation [SD], 63.8/7.5 years; disease duration 5.8/4.2 years; 43 men [76%]) were recruited from the outpatient movement disorder clinic of the Department of Neurology, University of Bonn. We compared the progression of motor symptoms assessed by Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor part (UPDRS-III) in the Qigong treatment group (n = 32) and a control group receiving no additional intervention (n = 24). Qigong exercises were applied as 90-minute weekly group instructions for 2 months, followed by a 2 months pause and a second 2-month treatment period. Assessments were carried out at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months. More patients improved in the Qigong group than in the control group at 3 and 6 months (P = 0.0080 at 3 months and P = 0.0503 at 6 months; Fisher's exact test). At 12 months, there was a sustained difference between groups only when changes in UPDRS-III were related to baseline. Depression scores decreased in both groups, whereas the incidence of several nonmotor symptoms decreased in the treatment group only.
Copyright 2005 Movement Disorder Society.