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Qigong for Injured Military Service Members

April 21, 2016 - Wounded, ill, and injured (WII) Military Service members experience significant stress and are at risk for developing chronic conditions including post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Qigong, a meditative movement practice, may positively affect their ability to engage in successful rehabilitation.

Several organizations, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi and University of Texas at El Paso, teamed up to assess the feasibility of Qigong practice in WII Service members returning from combat; effects on stress, sleep, and somatic symptoms; satisfaction; and participants' experience with the practice.

Twenty-six WII were enrolled. The program was designed to include 20 classes over 10 weeks. Participants completed self-report questionnaires, practice logs, and an exit interview.

The findings: average attendance was 8.14 classes; mean engagement was 5.7 weeks. Participants endorsed a high level of satisfaction with the practice. Qualitative themes included coping with stress; feeling more resilient and empowered; improvement in symptoms including sleep and physical function; and factors affecting practice. Participant-reported facilitators included accessibility and portability of the practice; barriers included scheduling conflicts and personal challenges. Participants recommended offering shorter programs with flexible scheduling options, increasing program awareness, and including significant others in future classes.

In conclusion, Qigong was safe, portable, and easily adapted for WII Service members.

This research is published in the March 2016 issue of Journal of Holistic Nursing

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