To conduct a systematic review to assess the clinical effectiveness of scalp acupuncture (SA) for stroke.
Literature searches were performed in 7 databases up to 16 August 2014, and all the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which SA therapy was administered to stroke patients were selected. Methodological quality was assessed using the Jadad score, the Cochrane risk of bias assessment, and the Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture.
Of a total of 2086 papers, 21 RCTs were selected. Meta-analysis revealed significant differences in the total efficacy rates of the SA group and the body acupuncture (BA) group vs the medication group (P < 0.002, P < 0.000 001, respectively), the SA plus BA group vs the BA group (P < 0.001); in the motor function of the SA plus BA group vs the BA group (P = 0.077); and in the nerve function of the SA group vs the SA plus BA group (P < 0.0001).
The results of our systematic review showed that SA therapy may exhibit effects in treatment efficacy and in the recovery of motor and nervous functions in patients with acute to chronic stroke. However, because of the lack of methodological quality, the thoroughly planned clinical studies are still required.