Study Examines Whether Acupuncture Impacts Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

Can auricular or traditional Chinese acupuncture improve quality of life for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury? 

Anyone interested in reading a study that looks to measure the effectiveness of treating patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) with auricular or traditional Chinese acupuncture alongside traditional care may do so free of charge until 29 July 2016.   

Medical AcupunctureThe study, published in the latest edition of the journal Medical Acupuncture, showed that patients being treated for TBI experienced a better headache-related quality of life (QoL) when their traditional care was supplemented with some form of acupuncture. However, auricular acupuncture did edge out traditional Chinese acupuncture in effectiveness when it came to the overall impact on headache-related QoL, according to the paper ("A Randomized Exploratory Study to Evaluate Two Acupuncture Methods for the Treatment of Headaches Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury.")

"Chronic concussion headaches are a clinical challenge. Acupuncture appears promising to avoid the opioid gateway for these patients," said Richard C. Niemtzow, MD, PhD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of Medical Acupuncture and Director, Director of the United States Air Force Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Center, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

For the study, lead author Wayne Jonas, MD, alongside coauthors from Samueli Institute (Alexandria, VA), Integrative Healing, LLC (Hyattsville, MD), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, MD), and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (Fort Belvoir, VA), consulted previously deployed members of the U.S. military who were afflicted with mild to moderate TBI and headaches (approximately 80 percent of the of the study’s participants reported chronic or recurrent headaches). Participants either received their usual care alone; their usual care plus 10 auricular acupuncture sessions involving six to nine needled points and indwelling needles left in for up to three days; or their usual care supplemented with 10 Traditional Chinese acupuncture sessions with placement of up to 22 needles on the limbs, head, and torso.

Medical Acupuncture is the official journal of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, and is peer-reviewed for bimonthly publishing both online and in print.