Background: Cerebral palsy in children is a predominantly congenital developmental disease with complex causes and diverse symptoms. Chinese medicine mainly uses acupuncture for the treatment of cerebral palsy; as the disease site is in the brain, emphasis is placed on scalp acupuncture therapy. There were studies about the treatment but different studies had very different results. In this study, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the recent reports on scalp acupuncture in the treatment of cerebral palsy in children, providing evidence for clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Methods: The databases of PubMed, Chinese Biomedical Literature (CBM), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and VIP were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on scalp acupuncture treatment of pediatric CP published from January 2000 to December 2021. The inclusion criteria of studies were made according to the Participants, Intervention, Control, Outcomes, Study design (PICOS) principles.
The Cochrane risk of bias 2.0 was used to evaluate the bias of the included literature. Meta-analysis was performed using the effective rate, Mental Development Index (MDI), Psychological Development Index (PDI), and Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM-88 scale) as outcome indicators for the efficacy, and the safety of scalp acupuncture was assessed.
Results: Initially, 332 articles were retrieved; after screening, 11 articles were included in the selection, including a total of 731 children, with 369 and 362 children for the experimental group and control group respectively. Meta-analysis showed that scalp acupuncture significantly improved the symptoms of children with CP [odds ratio (OR) =3.73, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.49-5.58, Z=6.41, P<0.00001], could significantly improve their mental development [mean difference (MD) =15.58, 95% CI: 11.74-19.43, Z=7.95, P<0.00001] and psychological development (MD =13.23, 95% CI: 6.17-20.28, Z=3.67, P=0.0002) of children, and significantly improved the motor ability of CP children (MD =17.45, 95% CI: 8.19-26.72, Z=3.69, P=0.0002).
Discussion: The curative effect of scalp acupuncture is better than that of conventional rehabilitation. Scalp-based acupuncture therapy can effectively improve the symptoms of paediatric CP, promote the mental and psychological development of children, and improve their gross motor function, the treatment is safe.