ACUPUNCTURE AND SPINAL CORD INJURY – SUMMARY OF KEY STUDIES
Dr. Margaret Naeser, Ph.D., Lic.Ac., Research Professor of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine and Neuroimaging/Aphasia Research Program, VA Boston Healthcare System
This article briefly summarizes the findings of key studies focused on the use of acupuncture to treat spinal cord injury (SCI). In part, this summary was taken from my invited report for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held in November of 1997 (proceedings published by NIH in 1997 (pp.93 –109)).
The attached Table summarizes results from three studies performed in China before the 1997 conference (see Gao, 1984; Gao et al., 1996; Wang,1992). None of these studies had a control group. Overall, 340 out of the 360 cases (i.e., 94.4%) had beneficial outcomes, including reduction in muscle spasms, some increased sensation, improved bladder and bowel function. Treatment duration ranged from five months to two to three years, or even five years. Electroacupuncture along the Bladder meridian (paravertebral) area was especially recommended. Authors recommend beginning acupuncture as soon as possible after SCI, even during the acute stage of spinal cord shock, to help reduce the development of spasms. The acupuncture treatments were also helpful in the treatment of decubital ulcers.
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