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Clinical Trial of Acupuncture for Patients with Spinal Cord Injuries

Wong, Alice M. K. MD; Leong, Chau-Peng MD; Su, Ting-Ya MS; Yu, Shang-Won MD; Tsai, Wen-Chung MD; Chen, Carl P. C. MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: January 2003 - Volume 82 - Issue 1 - p 21-27
Research Article: Acupuncture

Wong AMK, Leong CP, Su TY, Yu SW, Tsai WC, Chen CPC: Clinical trial of acupuncture for patients with spinal cord injuries. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2003;82:21–27.

Objective To examine whether electrical acupuncture therapy through adhesive surface electrodes and concomitant auricular acupuncture therapy could improve the neurologic or functional recovery in acute traumatic spinal cord injury patients.

Design A total of 100 acute traumatic spinal cord injury patients with American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment grading of A and B were recruited into this study. They were randomly divided into the acupuncture and control groups. In the acupuncture group, electrical acupuncture therapy via the adhesive surface electrodes were applied to the bilateral Hou Hsi (SI3) and Shen Mo (B62) acupoints. In auricular acupuncture, four acupoints related to the spinal cord were selected for stimulation at the antihelix, helix, and lower portion of the ear-back areas. Acupuncture therapy was initiated early in the emergency room setting or soon after spinal surgical intervention. Rehabilitation therapy was also provided to the patients during acupuncture therapy. In the control group, only rehabilitation therapy was provided to the patients. Neurologic and functional scores were assessed during the time of admission, hospital discharge, and 1-yr postinjury follow-up.

Results There were significant improvements in neurologic (sensory and motor), functional, and FIM™ scores in the acupuncture group compared with the initial admission period when assessed during the time of hospital discharge and the 1-yr postinjury follow-up. A greater percentage of patients in the acupuncture group recovered to a higher ASIA impairment grading.

Conclusion The use of concomitant auricular and electrical acupuncture therapies, when implemented early in acute spinal cord injury, can contribute to significant neurologic and functional recoveries.

From the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AMKW, TYS, WCT, CPCC) and Traumatic and Emergent Surgery (SWY), Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China; the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsing, Taiwan, Republic of China (CPL); and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China (CPL).

FIM™ is a trademark of the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, a division of UB Foundation Activities, Inc.

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Alice M. K. Wong, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 199, Tun-Hwa North Road, Taipei, 105, Taiwan, ROC.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.