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Acupuncture has no benefit in stroke rehabilitation

By Lilian Anekwe

Acupuncture has no benefit in functional recovery from a stroke, according to results of a systematic review of ten trials.

Although acupuncture is sometimes used as an adjunct to mainstream rehabilitation after stroke there have been no large trials into its effectiveness.

Korean researchers – in association with Professor Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter –reviewed data from 10 relevant studies and meta-analysed five studies that assessed functionality.

The control interventions were either sham acupuncture or subliminal acupuncture (electrostimulation using electrodes attached to the skin).

They found no evidence of functional benefit in favour of acupuncture in the subacute stages of stroke..

Specifically, they also found no beneficial effects of acupuncture on activities of daily living – either at the end of a course of acupuncture or after follow-up.

Again- in the chronic stage after stroke- there was no benefit of acupuncture.

Lead author Dr Jae Cheol Kong a researcher at the department of oriental rehabilitation medicine at the Wonkwang University, South Korea said: ‘’ Our meta-analyses of data from rigorous randomised sham-controlled trials did not show a positive effect of acupuncture as a treatment for functional recovery after stroke.’

Canadian Medical Journal, online 27 September.