Background: Persons with stroke commonly have impairments associated with a reduction in functionality. Motor impairments are the most prevalent, causing an impact on activities of daily life.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a session of dry needling (DN) applied to the upper extremity muscles on the sensorimotor function, hypertonia, and quality of life of persons with chronic stroke.
Methods: A randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial was performed. Participants were randomly assigned into an intervention group that received a single session DN in the biceps brachii, brachialis, flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus, extensor digitorum, adductor pollicis and triceps brachii muscles, or into a control group that received the same treatment but with a sham DN intervention. Treatment outcomes included the Fugl-Meyer Assessment Scale for the upper extremity, the Modified Modified Ashworth Scale, and the EuroQol-5D questionnaire. Measurements were carried out before, immediately after, and 14 days after intervention.
Results: Twenty-three persons participated in the study. Significant differences between groups were observed after the intervention in the total wrist-hand motor score (p = 0.023) and sensorimotor score (p = 0.022), for hypertonia in the elbow extensors both after treatment (p = 0.002) and at follow-up (p = 0.018), and in quality of life at follow-up (p = 0.030).
Conclusions: A single session of DN improved total wrist-hand motor function and total sensorimotor function in persons with chronic stroke immediately after treatment, as well as quality of life 2 weeks after treatment.
Trial registration number: NCT03546517 (ClinicalTrials.gov).
Keywords: chronic stroke; dry needling; hypertonia; quality of life; upper extremity function.