Objective: To evaluate the effects of Tai Chi Qigong training on the quality of life and physical function of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Design: A preliminary, single-blind, randomized controlled trial.
Setting: General community, performed at Hwaseong City Health Center.
Participants: Forty-four elderly subjects (mean age, 69.1 +/- 5.4 years) with knee osteoarthritis.
Intervention: The patients were randomized (2:1) to: (1) an eight-week Tai Chi Qigong training programme or (2) a waiting list control group. The programme involved eight weeks of group Tai Chi Qigong sessions, with 60 minutes per session twice a week.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was quality of life measured with the Short Form 36 (SF-36) at baseline and week 8. Secondary outcomes included the Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and 6-m walking time.
Results: The training group had statistically significant improvements in the quality of life (changes of SF-36, Qigong versus control: 21.6 +/- 16.8 versus 9.8 +/- 13.6, P < 0.05) and 6-m walking test (change in walking time, Qigong versus control: -1.6 +/- 1.7 versus -0.2 +/- 0.8 s, P < 0.01). The WOMAC scores in the training group were markedly improved, although the differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Tai Chi Qigong training appears to have beneficial effects in terms of the quality of life and physical functioning of elderly subjects with knee osteoarthritis. However, more rigorous trials are needed to confirm the efficacy of this training for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.