The Journal of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Fall 2018, 5(4): pp 16-22

​Can Acupuncture Therapy be Quantified?

​Lefeber, Donald J. MAOM, LAc, Yin & Yang Healthcare, Friendswood, TX

Li, Jiazhen, MAOM, MD, LAc, RedOak Instruments, LLC, Katy, TX

Smith, Elizabeth A. PhD, Community Medical Foundation for Patient Safety, Bellaire, TX

Paske, William C. PhD, Red Oak Instruments, LLC, Katy, TX

Abstract

Context: Currently there is a high demand for evidence-based research in the field of acupuncture.  The practice of acupuncture has existed for thousands of years and purportedly has been successful at managing a wide array of health conditions.  Producing objective/quantitative data that rules out any possibility of placebo effect has proved burdensome. 

Objectives:  This exploratory study sought to determine if changes in a patient’s fine motor control could be detected and quantified following an acupuncture treatment.

Design, Setting, Participants, Interventions:  This study looked at acupuncture patients undergoing treatment for general minor injury or pain relief to determine if quantifiable changes could be detected in the fine motor control of the hands after treatments.

Two groups of 50 subjects were used in the study.  The test group was given a fine motor control test prior to and after their acupuncture therapy to determine if any changes could be measured.

The control group was given two fine motor control tests without any intervention with a 40-minute delay between the tests to replicate the test group timing. This study was conducted at a non-profit community clinic between the dates of 9/28/16 & 2/19/17.

Results:  Of the 50 subjects (sample error ±14%) studied, 74% had an immediate positive effect on their fine motor control capabilities averaging ~+5% improvement in their fine motor control capabilities.  Of the 23 subjects receiving continued therapy, 94% had a long term positive improvement on their fine motor control capabilities.  The 50 subjects in the control group not receiving any acupuncture treatments had a positive improvement averaging ~+0.6% in only 23% of the subjects.  A t-test comparison between the test group and the control group indicated a significant difference between the two groups with p < 0.001.

Conclusions:  The RU-Fit device can be used to measure fine motor movement improvements in patients with pain following acupuncture treatment. Test reports can provide the patient with a review chart demonstrating the improvements in their fine motor control following acupuncture treatment and quantify long-term improvement over multiple treatments. 

Trial Registration: The ARIPI trial is registered at the US National Institutes of Health (ClinicalTrials.gov) #NCT03459872 Unique Protocol ID: RU-Fit Acu 1

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