Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating neurological disease. Several studies have reported that complementary and alternative therapies can have positive effects against pain in these patients.
Objective: The objective was to investigate the effectiveness of an Ai-Chi aquatic exercise program against pain and other symptoms in MS patients.
Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 73MS patients were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group for a 20-week treatment program. The experimental group underwent 40 sessions of Ai-Chi exercise in swimming pool and the control group 40 sessions of abdominal breathing and contraction-relaxation exercises in therapy room. Outcome variables were pain, disability, spasm, depression, fatigue, and autonomy, which were assessed before the intervention and immediately and at 4 and 10 weeks after the last treatment session. Results. The experimental group showed a significant (P < 0.028) and clinically relevant decrease in pain intensity versus baseline, with an immediate posttreatment reduction in median visual analogue scale scores of 50% that was maintained for up to 10weeks. Significant improvements were also observed in spasm, fatigue, disability, and autonomy.
Conclusion: According to these findings, an Ai-Chi aquatic exercise program decreases pain, spasms, disability, fatigue, depression, and autonomy in MS patients.