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Hydrotherapy for the Treatment of Pain in People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial 


Journal: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Article ID 473963


Authors: Castro-Sanchez AM, Mataran-Penarrocha GA, Saavedra-Hernandez M, Arroyo-Morales M, Moreno-Lorenzo C. 2012


Authors compared 36 (26F, 10M) with MS who attended % Ai Chi water exercise classes for 20 weeks 2x per week for 60 minutes to 37 people (24F, 13M) medicine-matched with MS who maintained their usual activities. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) at baseline was higher (8.3) in the intervention group than in the controls (7.8). Ai Chi class was a maximum of 10 participants, in 36 °C water with the 16 Ai Chi movements performed shoulder-deep. Measurements included the Pain VAS, other Pain Scales, a spasm VAS, the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale, the Fatigue Severity Scale, and the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. Measures were taken at baseline, 4 weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks and 30 weeks from start. The exercising group maintained a reduction in reported fatigue and depression at all time points through and after the Ai Chi class.


Results: The authors concluded that the 20 week, 2x/week Ai Chi program significantly reduced pain and spasm and improved quality of life.


Take Home Message: all self-report measures to test for anxiety, pain, depression, quality of sleep and quality of life. Note that this was a warm water pool which can be a contraindication for the MS client. However, Ai Chi does not have a CV component and elevated body temperatures are not expected. A thermo-neutral environment actually allows the participant to maintain a steady body temperature whereas cooler water would pull heat from the body.

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