Evaluating intense rehabilitative therapies with and without acupuncture for children with cerebral palsy: A randomized controlled trial

Burris Duncan, Kungling Shen, Li Ping Zou, Tong Li Han, Zhegh Li Lu, Hua Zheng, Michele Walsh, Claire Venker, Yani Su, Rosa Schnyer, Opher Caspi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the outcomes of conventional therapies (physical, occupational, and hydrotherapies) plus acupuncture with those without acupuncture when administered intensely in the management of children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP). Design: Evaluation-blind, prospective randomized controlled trial. Setting: Therapies and video-recorded assessments at a children's hospital in Beijing, China, and blind scoring and data analyses at a university in the United States. Participants: Children (N=75), 12 to 72 months of age, with spastic CP. Interventions: Intensely administered (5 times per week for 12wk) physical therapy, occupational therapy, and hydrotherapy either with acupuncture (group 1) or without acupuncture (group 2). To satisfy standard of care, group 2 subsequently received acupuncture (weeks 16-28). Main Outcome Measures: The Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM)-66 and the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) assessments at 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 28 weeks. Results: At the end of 12 weeks, there was no statistically significant difference between the 2 groups, but when group 2 received acupuncture (16-28wk) there was a shift toward improvement in the GMFM-66 and the PEDI-Functional Skills Self-Care and Mobility domain. When groups were combined, statistically significant improvements after intense therapies occurred from baseline to 12 weeks for each outcome measure at each Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) level. After adjusting for expected normative maturational gains based on age, the GMFM gains for children with GMFCS II level was statistically significant (P<.05) with a mean gain of 6.5 versus a predicted gain of 3.4. Conclusions: Intense early administered rehabilitation improves function in children with spastic CP. The contribution from acupuncture was unclear. Children's response varied widely, suggesting the importance of defining clinical profiles that identify which children might benefit most. Further research should explore how this approach might apply in the U.S.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-815
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Acupuncture therapy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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