The effect of electro-acupuncture on spasticity of the wrist joint in chronic stroke survivors

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2007 Feb;88(2):159-66. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2006.10.034.


Objective: To quantitatively assess the change in spasticity of the impaired wrist joint in chronic stroke patients after electro-acupuncture treatment.

Design: Crossover design.

Setting: University medical center research laboratory.

Participants: Seven chronic stroke subjects (age, 63.14+/-7.01y).

Intervention: Participants received two 6-week treatment regimens: combined electro-acupuncture and strengthening twice a week, and strengthening twice a week only. Muscle strength and spasticity of the wrist joint were quantified by using the Biodex multijoint System 3 Pro. Electro-acupuncture was given through a commercial electro-acupuncture device.

Main outcome measures: Velocity sensitivity of averaged speed-dependent reflex torque (VASRT); segmented averaged speed-dependent reflex torque (SASRT); Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS) scores; and integrated electromyographic activity of the affected wrist flexors during passive stretch of the affected wrist joint.

Results: VASRT was reduced significantly in the combined treatment group (P=.02) after the 6-week period, but not in the strengthening-only group (P=.23); however, no significant immediate effect of electro-acupuncture was observed (P>.05). MAS scores also showed a significant reduction (P<.01). SASRT did not differ significantly across different positions of the joint or across velocity; however, significant differences were present between the 2 treatment groups (P<.05) for each position and at all the velocities except at 20 degrees /s. Integrated electromyographic activity showed a trend for reduction after the combined treatment.

Conclusions: A combination of electro-acupuncture and muscle strengthening exercise for 6 weeks significantly reduced spasticity. The effect of spasticity reduction was consistent across different joint positions and different velocities of passive stretch.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / physiopathology
  • Muscle Spasticity / therapy*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Survivors
  • Torque
  • Wrist Joint / physiopathology*