Effectiveness and safety of Chinese massage therapy (Tui Na) on post-stroke spasticity: a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial

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Objective:To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Chinese massage therapy (Tui Na) for patients with post-stroke spasticity.Design:A prospective, multicenter, blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial.Subject:A total of 90 patients with post-stroke spasticity were randomly assigned to the experimental (Tui Na therapy) group (n = 45) or control (placebo Tui Na therapy) group (n = 45).Intervention:Participants in the experimental group received Tui Na therapy, while those in the control group received placebo-Tai Na (gentle rubbing) for 20–25 minutes per limb, once per day, five days per week for a total of four weeks. All participants in both groups received conventional rehabilitation.Main measure:The Modified Ashworth Scale, the Fugl-Meyer Assessment and the Modified Barthel Index were used to assess the severity of spasticity, motor function of limbs and activities of daily living, respectively. Assessments were performed at baseline, at four weeks and at three months.Results:Tui Na group had a significantly greater reduction in Modified Ashworth Scale in only four muscle groups than the control did (elbow flexors, P = 0.026; wrist flexors, P = 0.005; knee flexors, P = 0.023; knee extensors, P = 0.017). Improvements were sustained at three months follow-up. There was no significant difference between the two groups in Fugl-Meyer Assessment (P = 0.503) and Modified Barthel Index (P = 0.544). No adverse reaction was recorded in any of the cases mentioned at all study sites.Conclusions:Tui Na might be a safe and effective treatment to reduce post-stroke spasticity of several muscle groups.

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