Effects of acupuncture on foveation characteristics in congenital nystagmus

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Abstract

Aims/background

To examine the effects of acupuncture at the sternocleidomastoid muscles on foveation characteristics in congenital nystagmus.

Methods

Six patients with congenital nystagmus (CN) received a series of treatments consisting of two needles inserted into each sternocleidomastoid, stimulated by tapping gently every 5 minutes, for 20 minutes per session. Their eye movements were recorded using scleral search coils and changes in their CN waveforms analysed at each point in the treatment. Changes in the stability and duration of foveation periods were examined.

Results

Four of the six patients showed improved foveation at the commencement of treatment; three maintained this response throughout the treatment period and after the needles were removed. In two, the CN waveform itself was modified.

Conclusion

This study and others involving afferent stimulation to the neck and face suggest that projections from these areas to the reticular formation and vestibular nucleus may alter the behaviour of the pathophysiological mechanism underlying congenital nystagmus.

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