Objective: Acupuncture is a complex intervention consisting of specific and non-specific components. Acupuncture studies more frequently focus on collecting data from the patients' perspective and response, but the acupuncturist's role remains relatively unclear. In order to investigate potential non-mechanical active factors originating from the acupuncturist and transmitted to the patient during treatment, two novel devices for basic research in acupuncture were designed. The Acuplicator allows the researcher to insert needles without touching the needles themselves, while the Veliusator locks the needle in its place so that no mechanical movement can be transferred.
Methods: The Acuplicator was used to insert needles at Neiguan (PC6) on the right forearm of 23 volunteers. The insertion depth was measured using a depth gauge. The transfer of mechanical movements from the handle to the tip was detected with a precision length gauge with a motoric-tactile sensor.
Results: The mean insertion depth was (12.3 ± 1.5) mm (range 9.5 to 15.0 mm). Even with intense manipulation of the needle handle, no movements within ± 1 μm could be detected at the tip when the needle was locked.
Conclusion: With these two devices it will be possible to investigate the influence of non-mechanical components such as therapeutic qi in acupuncture.