Objective: Acupuncture has often been used for aphasia rehabilitation in China. The purpose of this paper was to: 1) provide a historic overview of acupuncture for aphasia due to stroke; 2) summarize the commonly used acupuncture approaches; and 3) objectively comment on the effectiveness of acupuncture for the rehabilitation of this type of disorder.
Methods: The Elsevier database and a Chinese database (CNKI) were searched through December, 2010 with the key words "aphasia, acupuncture" in English and Chinese, respectively. Case reports, uncontrolled clinical observations and controlled clinical trials were all included if acupuncture was the sole treatment or the main component of complex intervention for the rehabilitation of aphasia caused by cerebrovascular disease.
Results: More than 100 relevant articles were found. After analyzing these articles, we found that acupuncture for apoplectic aphasia most often included tongue, scalp, body and combination acupuncture. Tongue bleeding, deep insertion and strong stimulation were adopted by many practitioners. The ten most frequently used acupoints (or areas) were Lianquan (RN 23), Jinjin (EX-HN 12), Yuye (EX-HN 13), Tongli (HT 5), Fengchi (GB 20), Neiguan (PC 6), Baihui (DU 20), No. 1, 2 and 3 language sections, Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Yamen (DU 15).
Conclusions: Controlled clinical studies and a systematic literature review demonstrate that acupuncture has therapeutic effects on aphasia after stroke.