Use of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injury
Although many patients surviving spinal cord injury (SCI) show some recovery in motor and sensory function below the initial level of injury, spontaneous recovery in patients with complete SCI is quite limited. However, there have been reports of patients improving with surgery, pharmacological interventions, and alternative medical approaches such as acupuncture. The purpose of this study was to review the use of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of patients with SCI. For this reason, a review of the current literature was performed using the online PUBMED database and the PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were human studies, studies written in English language, and studies that evaluated the use of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of SCI patients. Finally, 14 studies were included in the present review. There is emerging evidence that acupuncture may have a beneficial effect in the rehabilitation of SCI patients, particularly in terms of restoring motor and sensory function, and controlling chronic pain, neurogenic bladder and bowel and secondary osteoporosis. However, high quality studies are scarce. Further prospective, randomized, controlled studies are needed to fully elucidate the role of acupuncture in the rehabilitation of SCI patients.
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