Purpose: Explore the feasibility of a Tai Chi intervention to improve musculoskeletal pain, emotion, cognition, and physical function in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Design: Two-phase, one-arm quasi-experimental design.
Method: Phase 1: 11 participants completed one Tai Chi session, feasibility questionnaire, and were offered participation in Phase 2, a 12-week Tai Chi intervention. Ten participants participated in Phase 2. Pain intensity, interference, physical function scales, an emotional battery, and cognition tests were used for pre- and postintervention outcome measures. Paired t tests and thematic analysis were used for analysis.
Findings: In Phase 1, most felt Tai Chi would benefit health (90.9%) and expressed interest in continuing Tai Chi (6.73 out of 7). Phase 2 results showed improvement in fear-affect (raw t = -2.64, p = .03; age adjusted t = -2.90, p = .02), fear-somatic arousal (raw t = -2.53, p = .035), List Sorting Working Memory (raw t = 2.62, p = .031; age adjusted t = 2.96, p = .018), 6-Minute Walk Test ( t = 3.541, p = .008), and current level of Pain Intensity ( t = -4.00, p = .004).
Conclusions: Tai Chi is an acceptable, holistic treatment to individuals with musculoskeletal pain and posttraumatic stress disorder. It may reduce pain, improve emotion, memory, and physical function.
Keywords: Tai Chi; pain and pain management; psychosocial/mental health; trauma/posttrauma.