Acupuncture for acute management and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury

European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 04/30/2012

The low methodological quality of the included studies does not allow us to make conclusive judgments on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in either the acute treatment and/or rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Its beneficial role for these indications remains uncertain.

Methods

  • The authors searched the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials 2008, Issue 2 (The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO and others.
  • They also searched the Chinese Acupuncture Studies Register, the Studies Register of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field, NCCAM, and NIH Clinical Studies Database.
  • Three major Mainland Chinese academic literature databases (CNKI, VIP and Wang Fang Data) were also searched using keywords in simplified Chinese.
  • Searches were completed in December 2009.
  • Randomized controlled studies evaluating different variants of acupuncture and involving participants of any age who had suffered a TBI.
  • Included trials compared acupuncture with placebo or sham treatment, or acupuncture plus other treatments compared with the same other treatments.
  • They excluded trials that only compared different variants of acupuncture or compared acupuncture alone against other treatments alone, as they did not yield the net effect of acupuncture.
  • Two review authors identified potential articles from the literature search and extracted data independently using a data extraction form.
  • They performed methodological assessment of included studies using the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias.
  • They were unable to perform quantitative data analysis due to insufficient included studies and available data.

Results

  • Four RCTs, including 294 participants, reported outcomes specified by this review.
  • Three investigated electro-acupuncture for TBI while one investigated acupuncture for acute TBI.
  • The results seem to suggest that acupuncture is efficacious for these indications, however the low methodological quality of these studies renders the results questionable.
  • No adverse effects of acupuncture were reported in any of the studies.

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