Welcome back mind-body students!
I am proud and humbled to share with you another publication of my research & collaboration with Tufts Medical Center in the world-renowned BMJ: British Medical Journal! The study/research, published just a couple weeks ago, March 21 - 2018, is called "Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial."
Thank you to Dr. Chenchen Wang and the entire research team at Tufts Medical Center!
You can read up on the BMJ study at the link above, or check out the following articles and videos as well:
As some of you may know, I have been involved in research over the last 15 years with Tufts Medical Center. We studied/researched autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee, and fibromyalgia/chronic pain.
If you want to learn more about those conditions and the work me and my team did (as well as watch the video Tufts communication did), check out my last blog, or read up at the links below:
As I mentioned in my last blog, 15 years ago when I first met with my PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang at Tufts medical center, I was challenged with designing a mind-body Tai Chi intervention for all three of the conditions above. Not all at once, of course! But over those years I would develop an intervention for each one separately.
I was also given the task, in the first six years, for the R21grant, to teach and implement the Tai Chi or mind-body intervention that I designed for each one of the three conditions.
Using my knowledge and understanding of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and Yoga (and what I have learned from years of experience working with individuals with the three conditions) I created a simple mind-body/Tai Chi intervention. It included gentle modified stretching, modified strengthening exercises, a strong emphasis on deep breathing in different postures, and a focus on engaging in different forms of meditation and visualizations with some Tai Chi movements from the Yang style Tai Chi.
You can see all of these components in my books and DVDS, such as Sunrise Tai Chi, Sunset Tai Chi, and Tai Chi Energy Patterns.
For the rheumatoid arthritis, the mind-body intervention was 70% deep breathing and meditation, and 30% stretching and some strengthening elements. You can read the article/publication about the rheumatoid arthritis study/research in the Oxford Academic Rheumatology 5 -2005; with the title: “Effect of Tai Chi in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.”
For our study of osteoarthritis of the knee, the Tai Chi intervention was 70% physical: lots of flexibility and strengthening exercise. The other 30% was mental: deep breathing, meditation, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. You can read the osteoarthritis study/research publication in the NCBI November - 2009 with the title: “Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”
The Fibromyalgia study, like the one for rheumatoid arthritis, used a Tai Chi intervention that was more mental (~60%) such as deep breathing, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. The physical elements made up about 40% of the intervention. Read the fibromyalgia study in the New England Journal of Medicine, August 19 – 2010 with the title: “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia.”
Of course, as all the groups advanced, across all the conditions being studied, even the physical exercises became more and more internal -- integrating the physical movements and exercises with deep breathing, engaging in meditation and Tai Chi typical visualizations, and eventually evoking the spirit.
Many times I would start the students on a chair for certain exercises, and over time and practice most students were able to move out of the chair into standing positions.
In both the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia studies, I witnessed tremendous positive changes on both the physical and mental levels. In the study on rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and therefore a much harder challenge, the differences, from before and after, were not as notable. It is also possible that pursuing notable changes for only the time allotted to us by one R21 grant was not enough; maybe more time and a longer period of research are needed to show differences from before and after, especially with the side effects and symptoms of this difficult condition.
After doing the 5 years of R21 research (which are smaller studies/research that involved only 60 patients) and producing good enough results, Dr. Chenchen Wang was able to get more grant funding from the NIH to do larger-scale research which is referred to as an R01 grant.
Using the R01 grant, we dealt with hundreds of patients verses just 60. That created a greater challenge. But with an outstanding PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang, and a great, smart, experienced, and knowledgeable research team of individuals, we were able to make it the research a success. Thank you again to each member of the research team!
In order to eliminate my personality element for the R01, the larger studies, we brought two other Tai Chi instructors in to teach in addition to myself. We also divided the participants into groups of roughly ten students. The groups were divided between the three Tai Chi instructors for teaching. This way we took out the factor of my “great personality” which, theoretically, could have a strong effect on the outcome.
This whole 15 years of research with Tufts and a few years of research with Dana-Farber was, for me, an unbelievable learning process and also a wonderful and humbling experience.
We compared the Tai Chi intervention to the regular care which is and was physiotherapy interventions, with hundreds of patients over a period of 5 years. Patients were randomly placed either in the Tai Chi groups or into the physiotherapy group. We also followed up with the participants one year after the studies, because we wanted to see and learn as well as collect data to how is there health a year after the research? Are they still practicing?
Once the different researches were finished and many of the participants did not have the option to keep practicing my teaching/intervention at the research, some of the students followed me to other classes that I teach around the Boston area, and some became my private students! You can hear some of their testimonies in this video.
Over time teaching and implementing my mind body/Tai Chi intervention, the scientific community found that it produced great enough results to publish in some prestigious medical journals.
If you are interested, take the time tp read through the different publications and articles. Learn, enjoy, and grow.
Thank you Ramel Rones (Rami).
As always, Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!