Acupuncture stimulates improved balance function in stroke patients. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Acupuncture stimulation improves balance function in stroke patients: a single-blinded controlled, randomized study.
Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(3):483-94. PMID: 19606509
The disturbance of balance function is one of main etiology resulting in falling down in stroke patients. A number of studies report that acupuncture may improve the motor function of stroke patients. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of acupuncture on balance function. We designed a single-blinded, controlled, randomized study. A total of 30 stroke patients were randomized into experimental and control groups. Experimental groups received acupuncture treatment accompanied by the manual twisting of needles and obtaining of qi (the subjects experienced sensations of soreness, numbness, swelling and heaviness, while the acupuncturist experienced a sensation of needle resistance), whereas the control group did not receive manual twisting of needles and without obtaining of qi. All of the subjects were first-time stroke patients; infarction location was limited to either the left or right hemisphere, and all subjects were able to walk for at least 6 meters. Acupuncture stimulation (AS) was applied to Baihui (GV 20) acupoint as well as to 4 spirit acupoints (1.5 cun anterior, posterior, left and right laterals from Baihui acupoint, respectively) for 20 min. Balance function outcome measures were: (1) the displacement area of the patient's center of gravity; (2) the time taken for a patient to stand vertically from a seated position; (3) the time taken for a patient to walk a distance of 6 meters; (4) muscle strength of both lower extremities. Results indicated that the displacement area from the center of gravity decreased in the experimental group, but not in the control group. There was greater reduction in the displacement area in the experimental group than in the control group. Following AS, the time taken to reach a standing position from a seated position, as well as the time taken to walk 6 meters was decreased equally in both the experimental and control groups. The muscle strength of the hip flexor and knee extensor were increased in the paralyzed and non-paralyzed sides of patients in the experimental group, but not in the control group. The results of the present study suggest that acupuncture stimulation may induce an immediate effect that improves balance function in stroke patients.