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Volume 45 Number 4, 2008
   Pages 587 — 596

Abstract - Electroacupuncture may help motor recovery in chronic stroke survivors: A pilot study

Wen Liu, PhD;1* Mukul Mukherjee, PT;1 Chao Sun, MD;1 Hongzeng Liu, PhD;1 Lisa K. McPeak, MD2

Departments of 1Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and 2Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Abstract — Past studies have suggested that acupuncture may reduce spasticity in stroke survivors. We do not know, however, whether acupuncture may enhance the effect of strength training on motor function. This study compared upper-limb motor functional improvement in chronic stroke survivors who received a combination of acupuncture and strength training with that of subjects who received strength training alone. A total of 10 chronic stroke patients with moderate or severe wrist muscle spasticity were recruited for this study. The study used a crossover design with a random order of either combined electroacupuncture and strength training or strength training alone. Each subject received one of the two types of treatment twice a week for the first 6 weeks and switched to the other for another 6 weeks. Quantitative measurements of wrist spasticity, active wrist extension range of motion, isometric wrist strength, and clinical evaluation with Fugl-Meyer (FM) upper-limb motor scores were conducted before and after either treatment. After the combined treatment, the quantitative spasticity level, active wrist extension range of motion (increased by a mean of 16.3 degrees), and FM upper-limb motor score (increased by a mean of 4.9 points) changed significantly (p < 0.01) but no significant changes were noted in isometric wrist strength. The strength training alone resulted in no significant changes to any measured variable. The results of the current study indicate that the combined acupuncture and strength training treatment reduced muscle spasticity and may have improved motor function for chronic stroke survivors with moderate or severe muscle spasticity.

Key words: acupuncture, electroacupuncture, motor function, muscle spasticity, range of motion, rehabilitation, spasticity, strength training, stroke, wrist strength.

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