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Qigong Benefits Dementia Patients with Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI)

This study focused on the potential effect of practicing qigong in patients with Vascular Cognitive Impairment [VCI], the second greatest cause of dementia following Alzheimer’s.

Ninety-three people were initially screened, though only 60 ended up participating in the entire three months of the study.

Qigong was practiced an hour per day. Patients were 60 years old or older. The study was conducted at Tianjin Medical University General Hospital in Tianjin, China. The study focused on utilizing qigong and cognitive training in concert with control groups utilizing neither.

Using a variety of ways to test the results, the conclusions were “significant.” The group that combined both qigong and cognitive training had the greatest positive effect.

The greatest concern with the conclusion was with the relatively small number of subjects involved. More study using greater numbers of subjects should be the next step. Still, the results are encouraging in terms of the positive potential qigong practice can have with elderly care.

AbstractBreath Qigong Improves Recognition in Seniors With Vascular Cognitive Impairment.

Niu Y, Wan C, Zhou B, Zhang J, Ma H, Bo Y, Zhang Y, Liu H.Altern Ther Health Med. 2019 Jan;25(1):20-26.


Vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) or vascular dementia is widely considered to be the second-most-common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease, accounting for 20% of cases. Little is known about the effectiveness of breath qigong for seniors suffering from VCI or dementia.


For seniors with VCI, the study aimed to compare the benefits of qigong practice, cognitive training, and qigong practice + cognitive training in improving cognitive function, memory, executive function, and daily problem-solving ability.


The study was a randomized, controlled pilot study that used a prospective design with repeated measures.


The study took place at the Tianjin Medical University General Hospital (Tianjin, China).

PARTICIPANTS:Participants were 93 patients with VCI at a clinic at the hospital.

INTERVENTION:The participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (1) qigong practice, an intervention group; (2) cognitive training, a positive control group; or (3) a combination of qigong practice and cognitive training, an intervention group. Participants received the treatments for 3 months.

OUTCOME MEASURES:All outcome measures were undertaken at baseline and post intervention. The measures included (1) the Montreal cognitive assessment, (2) the Loewenstein occupational therapy cognitive assessment, and (3) the Barthel activities of daily living index.RESULTS:All 3 groups showed significant improvements in general cognitive function, memory, executive function, and daily problem-solving ability (P < .05).

CONCLUSION:Qigong practice is an easy and convenient exercise performed at no cost and has the potential to improve the cognitive functions of older adults with mild VCI.