Acupuncture for hemiplegic stroke rehabilitation?

Presenter: Dr Isabella Leung, AUPOA

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About the presentation

Stroke has substantial global impact, as the second leading killer and third leading cause of disability. Optimal functional recovery is found to occur within the first eleven-weeks post-stroke, as measured by the Barthel Index and Functional Independence Measure. Further, within clinical practice, physical therapy usually stops for patients around 12-weeks post-stroke. Importantly, a study has found that 40% of patients of patients who return home from hospital care are still too disabled to walk. As a consequence, both patients and their caregivers experience immense physical, mental health, as well as socioeconomical burden. Within an ageing population who are at greater risk for stroke events, effective rehabilitation interventions for stroke hemiplegia are urgently required. Although a recent systematic review has identified twenty-eight studies investigating the effects of different rehabilitation interventions for physical function and immobility complications, only two were of high-quality. From these two studies, the authors found that current methodologies such as occupational therapy or very early and frequent mobilisation did not differ significantly to usual care in improving activities of daily living (ADLs), depression or quality of life (QoL) up to 1-year post-intervention. Other interventions such as the use of robotics or acupuncture were the most popular, however, these studies were of high risk of bias. Acupuncture is considered a relatively safe, cost-effective, and scalable intervention for hemiplegic stroke. Here, the mechanisms for the potential therapeutic effects of acupuncture are explored, and future directions of studies utilising acupuncture for hemiplegic stroke rehabilitation are highlighted. 

About the presenter

Isabella Leung recently completed her PhD studies at the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney. Following her undergraduate studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine at UTS, she has continued to practice TCM for over ten years. She currently works at the NICM Research Institute, Western Sydney University. With special interest in neurodegenerative disorders and seeing the benefits of acupuncture and herbal medicine clinically, Isabella aims to bring more evidence-based understanding on how these interventions can be implemented into mainstream clinical practice. 

Further information: [email protected]

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