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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jul 19;(3):CD004131.

Acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation.

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West China Hospital, Si Chuan University, Department of Geriatrics, Chengdu, Si Chuan, China 610041.

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Western society; in China it is the second most common cause of death in cities and the third in rural areas. It is also a main cause of adult disability and dependency. Acupuncture for stroke has been used in China for hundreds of years and is increasingly practiced in some Western countries.


To assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for patients with stroke in the subacute or chronic stage.


We searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register (November 2005), the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field Trials Register (November 2005), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2005), MEDLINE (1966 to November 2005), EMBASE (1980 to November 2005), CINAHL (1982 to November 2005), AMED (1985 to November 2005), the Chinese Stroke Trials Register (November 2005), the Chinese Acupuncture Trials Register (November 2005), the Chinese Biological Medicine Database (1977 to November 2005), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Register (November 2005), and the National Institute of Health Clinical Trials Database (November 2005). We handsearched four Chinese journals and checked reference lists of all papers identified for further trials.


Truly randomised unconfounded clinical trials among patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, in the subacute or chronic stage, which compared acupuncture involving needling with either placebo acupuncture, sham acupuncture or no acupuncture.


Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed quality, extracted and cross-checked the data.


Five trials (368 patients) met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was considered inadequate in all trials. Although the overall estimate from four trials suggested the odds of improvement in global neurological deficit was higher in the acupuncture group compared with the control group (odds ratio (OR) 6.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.89 to 22.76), this estimate may not be reliable since there was substantial heterogeneity (I(2 )= 68%). One trial showed no significant improvement of motor function between the real acupuncture group and the sham acupuncture group (OR 9.00, 95% CI 0.40 to 203.30), but the confidence interval was wide and included clinically significant effects in both directions. No data on death, dependency, institutional care, change of neurological deficit score, quality of life or adverse events were available.


Currently there is no clear evidence on the effects of acupuncture on subacute or chronic stroke. Large, methodologically-sound trials are required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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