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Acupuncture therapy for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Interest in alternative medical treatments, including acupuncture, is increasing. Alternative treatments must be subjected to the same objective standards as all medical treatments. A non-blinded pilot study of the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of acupuncture (ACUPX) for the symptoms of (PD) was performed. Twenty PD patients (mean age, 68 years; disease duration, 8.5 years; Hoehn and Yahr [H&Y] stage, 2.2; Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale score [UPDRS], 38.7) each received acupuncture treatments by a licensed acupuncturist. All patients were treated with two acupuncture treatment sessions per week. The first seven patients received 10 treatments and the last 13 patients 16 treatments. Patients were evaluated before and after ACUPX with the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP); UPDRS; H&Y; Schwab and England (S&E); Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI); Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); quantitative motor tests, including timed evaluations of arm pronation supination movements, finger dexterity, finger movements between two fixed measured points, and the stand-walk-sit test; and a patient questionnaire designed for the study. Following ACUPX, there were no significant changes in the UPDRS, H&Y, S&E, BAI, BDI, quantitative motor tests, total SIP or the two SIP Dimension scores. Analysis of the 12 SIP categories not corrected for multiple comparisons revealed a post-ACUPX improvement in the sleep and rest category only (P = 0.03). On the patient questionnaire, 85% of patients reported subjective improvement of individual symptoms including tremor, walking, handwriting, slowness, pain, sleep, depression, and anxiety. There were no adverse effects. ACUPX therapy is safe and well tolerated in PD patients. A range of PD and behavioral scales failed to show improvement following ACUPX other than sleep benefit, although patients reported other discrete symptomatic improvements. A broad battery of tests in PD patients suggested that ACUPX resulted in improvement of sleep and rest only. This finding needs to be verified using more in-depth and controlled evaluation of ACUPX for PD-related sleep disturbance. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society

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