Effect of qigong exercise and acupressure rehabilitation program on pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19: a randomized controlled trial

Integr Med Res. 2021;10(Suppl):100796. doi: 10.1016/j.imr.2021.100796. Epub 2021 Oct 29.


Background: There are several effective complementary and integrative therapies for patients with severe COVID-19. The trial aims to evaluate the efficacy and advantages of the qigong exercise and acupressure rehabilitation program (QARP) for treating patients with severe COVID-19.

Methods: A total of 128 patients with COVID-19 aged 20 to 80 years were recruited and randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to receive QARP plus standard therapies or standard therapies alone. QARP consisted of acupressure therapy and qigong exercise (Liu Zi Jue). The primary outcome was measured with the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnea scale, and the secondary outcomes included the modified Borg dyspnea scale (MBS), fatigue Scale-14 (FS-14), patient health questionnaire-9 scale (PHQ-9), duration of respiratory symptoms, and vital signs.

Results: In total, 128 patients completed the clinical trial. The QARP group and standard therapies group showed significant improvements in vital signs (except blood pressure) and clinical scales compared with baseline (p<0.05). The QARP group also showed more significant improvement in the mMRC dyspnea scale (-1.8 [-2.1, -1.6], p=0.018) and modified Borg dyspnea scale (-3.7 [95% confidence intervals (CI) -4.3, -3.1], p=0.045). The duration of cough was 14.3 days (95% CI 12.6, 16.1, p=0.046), and the length of hospital stay was 18.5 days (95% CI 17.0, 20.0, p=0.042) in the QARP group, both of which were significantly reduced compared with the standard therapies group (p<0.05).

Conclusion: QARP plus standard therapies improved lung function and symptoms such as dyspnea and cough in patients with severe COVID-19 and shortened the length of hospital stay. Therefore, QARP may be considered an effective treatment option for patients with severe COVID-19.

Trial registration: Clinical Research Information Service Identifier: ChiCTR2000029994.

Keywords: Acupressure; COVID-19; Pulmonary function; Qigong; Telerehabilitation.