Post-stroke cognitive impairment (PSCI), which has a high morbidity, is closely associated with the recurrence and rehabilitation of ischemic stroke. There are 2 different stages of PSCI, including post-stroke cognitive impairment with no dementia (PSCIND) and post-stroke dementia (PSD). The latter has a significantly higher mortality rate than the previous one. Therefore, preventing the onset of PSD is of vital importance. However, there is no unequivocally effective prevention or treatment for PSCI, except intensive secondary prevention of stroke. The primary aim of this protocol is to explore whether acupuncture can improve cognitive function of patients with PSCIND and reduce the chances of developing PSD. On this bias, we also want to explore its possible mechanisms.
A prospective, multicenter, large sample, randomized controlled trial will be conducted. A total of 360 eligible patients will be recruited from 5 different hospitals and randomly allocated into the acupuncture group (AG), sham acupuncture group (NAG), and waiting-list group (WLG) in a 1:1:1 ratio. The intervention period of NAG and AG will last 3 months (30 minutes per day, 3 times per week). Primary and secondary outcomes will be measured at baseline, 12 weeks (at the end of the intervention), 24 weeks (after the 12-week follow-up period), and 36 weeks (after the 24-week follow-up period). Resting-state and task-state functional MRI will be conducted at baseline and 12 weeks.
The ethic committee of First Teaching Hospital of University of Traditional Chinese Medicine approved the study. Study results will be first informed to each participant and later disseminated to researchers, and the general public through courses, presentations and the internet, regardless of the magnitude or direction of effect. The results will also be documented in a published peer-reviewed academic journal.
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