Clinical Effects of Scalp Electrical Acupuncture in Stroke: A Sham-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 05/09/2012

The results support further testing of scalp electrical acupuncture for the treatment of stroke as well further mechanistic studies to understand mechanisms associated with the observed improvement.


  • Sixty-two (62) subjects who were at least 18 months postdiagnosis of ischemic stroke were randomized to receive 10 sessions of placebo or active low-frequency electrical stimulation (2/100Hz) using subcutaneous acupuncture needles over the scalp.
  • Functional and neurological evaluations were indexed by the Barthel, Rankin, and National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS).


  • Results show that there was a significant difference in functional improvement between the sham and active group as indexed by NIHSS scale.
  • The active group had a larger functional improvement after 10 sessions of scalp electrical acupuncture.
  • The other two functional scales (Rankin and Barthel) failed to show significant differences between the two treatment groups.

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