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Acupressure as an adjunct aids cognition in TBI: from the annual meeting of the American neuropsychiatry association.

DENVER - Acupressure shows promise as an adjuvant therapy for cognitive impairment due to traumatic brain injury, a study has shown.

Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) showed significant improvements on the Stroop task and Digit Span test following Jin Shin acupressure sessions in a randomized, single-blind, sham acupressure-controlled clinical trial, Kristina L. McFadden said at the meeting.

These improvements suggest enhanced working memory function, added Ms. McFadden, a doctoral student in the behavioral neuroscience program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She and her coauthors also reported their results in the Journal of Neurotrauma (2011; 28:21-34).

Acupressure has previously been reported to be effective for depression, back pain, and nausea. The Jin Shin style of acupressure is based on traditional Chinese acupuncture theory. It's safe and can easily be taught to novices, making it well suited for patient self-care, according to Ms. McFadden.

She reported on 38 TBI patients in their early 20s who were randomized to eight 40-minute sessions of acupressure or sham therapy using placebo acupoints, with all sessions being provided by the same highly experienced acupressurist. The sessions were carried out over a 2-week period. The two patient groups were similar in key baseline characteristics, including their number of head injuries, number of TBI-sensitive symptoms, and time since TBI, which was about 2 years in both groups.

The study hypothesis was that acupressure would result in improved scores on cognitive tests as a result of an enhanced relaxation response with resultant stress reduction. The impairments in memory and attention that are common sequelae of TBI are often exacerbated by stress, she noted.

The active treatment group demonstrated significantly decreased P300 amplitude and latency on the Stroop task and significant improvement on the Digit Span test; the control group did not. The acupressure group also showed a greater reduction in scores on the Perceived Stress Scale than did controls.

The mechanism of benefit for acupressure is unclear. One theory is that the treatment effect results from an increase in parasympathetic nervous system activity accompanied by dampening of sympathet-ic nervous system activity. Consistent with this notion, Ms. McFadden and her coworkers have previously shown in a randomized trial that Jin Shin acupressure modulates autonomic nervous system activity in stroke survivors (Complement. Ther. Med. 2010; 18:42-8).

The current study was supported by the Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund. Ms. McFadden said she had no relevant financial disclosures.
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Title Annotation:NEUROLOGY
Author:Jancin, Bruce
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Jun 1, 2011
Words:400
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