Acupressure as a non-pharmacological intervention for traumatic brain injury (TBI).
J Neurotrauma. 2010 Oct 27. Epub 2010 Oct 27. PMID: 20979460
University of Colorado, Psychology and Neuroscience, Boulder, Colorado, United States; [email protected]
Acupressure is a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment using fingertips to stimulate acupoints on the skin. While suggested to improve cognitive function, acupressure has not been previously investigated with a controlled design in traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors, who could particularly benefit from a non-pharmacological intervention for cognitive impairment. A randomized, placebo-controlled, single-blind design assessed the effects of acupressure (8 treatments over 4 weeks) on cognitive impairment and state of being following TBI, including assessment of event-related potentials (ERPs) during Stroop and auditory oddball tasks. It was hypothesized that active acupressure treatments would confer greater cognitive improvement than placebo treatments, perhaps due to enhanced relaxation response induction and resulting stress reduction. Significant treatment effects were found comparing pre- to post-treatment change between groups. During the Stroop task, the active group showed greater reduction in both P300 latency (p = 0.010, partialη2 = 0.26) and amplitude (p = 0.011, partial η2 = 0.26), as well as a reduced Stroop effect on accuracy (p = 0.008, partial η2 = 0.21) compared to the placebo group. Additionally, the active group improved more than placebo on the Digit Span test (p = 0.043, Cohen's d = 0.68). Together, these results suggest an enhancement in working memory function associated with active treatments. Since acupressure emphasizes self-care and can be taught to novice individuals, it warrants further study as an adjunct treatment for TBI.