Nov 08, 2002
Acupuncture appears to offer no motor recovery benefit for stroke patients already participating in a rehabilitation program, according to a report in the November issue of Stroke. However, such therapy may have a small beneficial effect on disability.
Dr. Frank Kai-hoi Sze, from the Shatin Hospital in Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of data from 14 randomized controlled trials that investigated the motor function benefits of acupuncture within 6 months of stroke. Data from a total of 1213 patients were included in the analysis.
Acupuncture did not appear to improve motor recovery in patients who participated in stroke rehabilitation programs. In contrast, the therapy was associated with a small positive effect on disability, the investigators note. However, this may have been due to a placebo effect, they point out, because sham acupuncture was associated with a similar improvement in disability.
The researchers note that primarily because of poor study quality, they were unable to determine if acupuncture was beneficial for patients not participating in rehabilitation.
The authors offer one possible explanation as to how acupuncture may improve disability without improving the motor impairment. Compared with untreated patients, those who undergo acupuncture may "become more motivated and better adapted to the disability and therefore have a more favorable disability score, although the motor impairment may remain the same."
© 2002 Reuters Ltd