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Cardiovascular benefits of acupressure following stroke.

Aim Of This Study

The aim of this study was to determine the effects of Shin Jin acupressure on the heart rate and blood pressure of patients who had suffered a stroke.

Method

Out of 113 candidates, thirteen participants, eight male and five female, with a mean age of 58.38, completed this study.

Candidates were excluded from the study if they had previously undergone acupressure therapy, if they suffered from a chronic or unstable health condition, or if they were currently being treated for a non-stroke related illness. A period of at least 19 months since their stroke was also a criteria for inclusion as a participant.

Participants were randomly assigned into Groups A and B. The six participants in Group A received eight weekly active acupressure treatments, then eight weeks of no treatment, and then eight weekly placebo acupressure treatments. The seven participants in Group B received eight placebo acupressure treatments, then eight weeks of no treatment, and then eight weeks of active acupressure treatments.

All treatments involved participants lying supine on a massage table, fully clothed except for their shoes, behind a closed curtain. After a pulse diagnosis was taken on the radial aspect of the wrist, the Jin Shin acupressure practitioner who had 20 years clinial experience, determined an appropriate treatment to begin the session. Consequently, the practitioner applied a sequence of acupressure points using her fingertips to apply pressure.

Once this was complete, another pulse diagnosis was taken to establish the next appropriate sequence and so on for a period of 40 minutes. Those in the active treatment phase were treated at genuine acupressure points, whereas those in the placebo phase were treated at predetermined placebo points for particular conditions (e.g., gall bladder or kidney). This ensured that the placebo points matched the number and sequence of the active points, thereby making distinctions between the two phases impossible to tell apart.

Moreover, a scripted dialogue between the practitioner and the participants was used so that interactions were kept standard during treatments. These interactions were monitored by a research assistant who sat on the other side of the curtain.

Measurements

After five minutes of lying supine and before treatments began, participants' had their blood pressure and heart rates measured using a vital signs monitor. These measurements were continued throughout treatments at five-minute intervals.

Additionally, using a 0-100% scale, participants were asked to rate their expectations of the treatment prior to starting each session. Also, a scale of 1-9 was used after every session for participants to rate how credible they thought the treatment was by being asked questions such as, 'How reasonable does the treatment seem to you?'

Results

The active acupressure treatments lowered heart rates significantly more than the placebo treatments. This result was evident only after four weeks of treatments and occurred 20 minutes into the treatment sessions.

There was no significant reduction in blood pressure for either group. Futhermore, there were no significant differences between groups for either expectancy or credibility ratings between groups.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that:
 ... active acupressure treatment appears to modulate
 ANS activity. As such, heart rate reductions and the
 relaxation response were enhanced over and above that
 seen during placebo acupressure treatment. This indicates
 a possible physiological mechanism by which
 stimulation of acupoints affects the body, and could help
 determine for which medical conditions acupressure
 could be a useful addition to conventional treatment
 methods.


Limitations Of This Study

The researchers cited as possible limitations the fact that as well as a small sample size, 67% of the participants were taking antihypertensive medications which could have impacted on blood pressure measurements.

They suggested that future studies, that did not include a crossover into the opposite treatment, would help to determine how long the effects of Jin Shin acupressure lasted. Also, a relaxation-only control group, in addition to a placebo group, could be included to compare effects.

McFadden KL, Hernandez TD. Cardiovascular benefits of acupressure (Jin Shin) following stroke. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2010;18:42-48.
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Article Details
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Author:Robertshawe, Penny
Publication:Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Words:667
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