Can sensory stimulation improve the functional outcome in stroke patients?

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Article abstract

After obtaining informed consent, we randomized 78 patients with severe hemiparesis of the left or right side within 10 days of stroke onset: 40 to a control group receiving daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and 38 to a group that, in addition, we treated with sensory stimulation (acupuncture) twice a week for 10 weeks. The median age was 76 years for both groups. Motor function, balance, and ADL (Barthel's Index) were assessed before the start of treatment and at 1 and 3 months after stroke onset; ADL was also assessed after 12 months. We assessed the quality of life (QL) using the Nottingham Health Profile 3, 6, and 12 months after stroke onset. Patients given sensory stimulation recovered faster and to a larger extent than the controls, with a significant difference for balance, mobility, ADL, QL, and days spent at hospitals/nursing homes. Whether acupuncture per se is responsible for the differences requires further study.

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