Wong V, Cheuk DK, Lee S, Chu V.
Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2012 Mar;48(1):71-86.
BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be life threatening depending on the severity of the insult to the brain. It can also cause a range of debilitating sequelae which require cognitive, motor, communication, emotional, or behavioral rehabilitation of varying intensity and duration. A number of studies conducted and published in China have suggested that acupuncture may be beneficial in the acute treatment and rehabilitation of TBI. The aim of this paper was to determine the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the acute management or rehabilitation (or both) of patients with a TBI, including cognitive, neurological, motor, communication, emotional, or behavioral complications, or a combination of such complications.METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials 2008, Issue 2 (The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO and others. We also searched the Chinese Acupuncture Studies Register, the Studies Register of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field, NCCAM, and NIH Clinical Studies Database. Three major Mainland Chinese academic literature databases (CNKI, VIP and Wang Fang Data) were also searched using keywords in simplified Chinese. Searches were completed in December 2009. Randomized controlled studies evaluating different variants of acupuncture and involving participants of any age who had suffered a TBI. Included trials compared acupuncture with placebo or sham treatment, or acupuncture plus other treatments compared with the same other treatments.We excluded trials that only compared different variants of acupuncture or compared acupuncture alone against other treatments alone, as they did not yield the net effect of acupuncture. Two review authors identified potential articles from the literature search and extracted data independently using a data extraction form. We performed methodological assessment of included studies using the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. We were unable to perform quantitative data analysis due to insufficient included studies and available data. RESULTS: Four RCTs, including 294 participants, reported outcomes specified by this review. Three investigated electro-acupuncture for TBI while one investigated acupuncture for acute TBI. The results seem to suggest that acupuncture is efficacious for these indications, however the low methodological quality of these studies renders the results questionable. No adverse effects of acupuncture were reported in any of the studies. CONCLUSIONS: The low methodological quality of the included studies does not allow us to make conclusive judgments on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in either the acute treatment and/or rehabilitation of TBI. Its beneficial role for these indications remains uncertain. Further research with high quality trials is required.