Original article

Stimulation of Acupoint ST-34 Acutely Improves Gait Performance in Geriatric Patients During Rehabilitation: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Klaus Hauer PhDalow asteriskCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding AuthorIsabel Wendt MAblow asteriskMichael Schwenk MAaChristina Rohr MAbPeter Oster MDa and Johannes Greten MDbc
a Department of Geriatric Research, Bethanien-Hospital/Geriatric Centre at the University of Heidelberg
b Heidelberg School of Chinese Medicine Heidelberg
c Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar ICBAS, University of Porto, Portugal

Available online 25 December 2010. 

Abstract

Hauer K, Wendt I, Schwenk M, Rohr C, Oster P, Greten J. Stimulation of acupoint ST-34 acutely improves gait performance in geriatric patients during rehabilitation: a randomized controlled trial.

Objective

To determine whether a specific regimen of acupoint stimulation improved gait performance in geriatric patients.

Design

Multiple-blinded, randomized, controlled intervention trial.

Setting

Geriatric ward rehabilitation.

Participants

60 geriatric patients during rehabilitation.

Interventions

Both groups received a 1-time acupoint stimulation according to randomization. Stimulation of a verum acupoint (verum treatment) according to principles of traditional Chinese medicine was compared with a technically identical needle application on a nonacupoint (control treatment) in the control group.

Main Outcome Measures

Descriptive parameters were documented by valid, established tests. Gait performance was objectively measured by an electronic walkway before needling and after needling.

Results

All gait parameters showed statistically significant improvement after verum treatment compared with control treatment (velocity, cadence, stride length, cycle time, step time, single support, double support: P values all <.05) except for the base of support (P=.163). Effect sizes achieved by 1-time stimulation of an acupoint were low and ranged from .08 to .24. No severe adverse clinical events related to the intervention occurred.

Conclusions

Study results showed that a 1-time administration of a specific acupoint stimulation regimen statistically significantly improved gait performance during geriatric ward rehabilitation. If sustainability of effects can be documented, acupuncture may prove to be an inexpensive intervention that may mildly improve motor performance in frail geriatric patients.
Key Words: Acupuncture therapy; Aged; Gait; Rehabilitation
Abbreviations: ADLs, activities of daily living; GDS, Geriatric Depression Scale; MMSE, Mini-Mental State Examination; RCT, randomized controlled trial; TCM, traditional Chinese medicine; VAS, visual analog scale

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