Remote study to look at effects of Qigong for neuropathic pain relief in adults with a spinal cord injury

For this study, we will recruit up to 30 adults with a spinal cord injury (occurring at least 3 months ago) and with neuropathic pain.

Participants will attend for free the “Five elements Qigong Healing Movements” class on Zoom and then practice the “Five Elements Qigong Healing Movements” at home 3 times/week for 40min for 12 weeks. The video will be accessible through a passcode on the Spring Forest Qigong website.

Participants will receive weekly calls (Zoom is also possible) from Dr. Van de Winckel’s team who will ask about neuropathic pain, adherence to the Qigong practice, and effects experienced as well as anything that might have influenced the pain that week.

Before and after the Qigong training, as well as after a 6-week follow-up of weekly calls, participants will complete some questionnaires over Zoom.

This study will identify the effect of Qigong practice on pain, function, and body awareness. The total participation period is about 4.5 months.

Schedule of Events

Screening and Clinical Testing Visit

Over Zoom, you will be asked to do the following:

• Consent to participate in the study
• Review your demographic information and medication history
• Complete study required questionnaires over Zoom

Qigong Practice

Then you will participate in an introductory Qigong class (about 6h, sometimes spread over 2 days) at the Spring Forest Qigong Center and receive a video to practice at home, 3 times/week, 40min/session for 12 weeks.

Dr. Van de Winckel’s team will call you weekly (about 15 min) to review the training, ask, and address questions.

After 6 weeks and 12 weeks of Qigong practice, you will complete the same questionnaires over Zoom.

Final Visit

After the 6-week follow-up period in which you are not practicing Qigong, you will complete the same questionnaires over Zoom.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do researchers hope to learn?

Researchers have found that some parts of the brain, related to pain and body awareness, function differently in adults with spinal cord injury and neuropathic pain. We know from our other studies that Qigong practice can help restore some of those brain functions along with pain reduction.

We would like to investigate how Qigong helps reduce or eliminate neuropathic pain when participants practice for 12 weeks. We also want to know whether those beneficial effects are maintained for another 6 weeks after participants stop practicing.

How will participating in this study help?

This research helps us understand how Qigong helps people with spinal cord injury and neuropathic pain.

How do I need to be dressed for the Qigong practice?

Loose-fitting clothing would be fine. We recommend you wear clothing in which you are comfortable.

Do I have to take a break from other activities/therapies to participate?

We will have you continue to do your usual activities. We will ask you not to start any other body awareness training (martial arts, dance, Tai Chi) during the 12 weeks that you practice Qigong or exercise. You can continue any activities that you were doing beforehand.

What are the characteristics of participants you are looking for?

Participants (18-75 years of age) with various levels of neuropathic pain related to the spinal cord injury can participate. Participants, who have cognitive problems, are unable to speak or understand instructions, who have nerve injuries, fractures or infections, vision problems, or with imagining movements, or who do not speak English will not be recruited. If you are not sure if you are eligible, feel free to contact us.

How will I benefit from participating?

There may be no direct benefit to participating in this study, but you could benefit from the Qigong practice in terms of pain relief and/or other benefits. In any case, the information from this study may help other people in the future.

Does this cost money to participate?

There is no charge to participate. You will receive $100 after completing all study components.

I'm working full-time/in shifts. Can I practice and do the calls before/after my work?

While we cannot always promise a perfect match, we will do our best to plan our visits around your working schedule. Visits early in the morning, after 5 pm, or during the weekend can be discussed.

Principal Investigator (PI):

Ann Van de Winckel, PhD, MS, PT

Interested in Participating?