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August 2015

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 Sep; 84(9): E7.

Acupuncture for persistent symptoms in a patient with mild traumatic brain injury: A case report: Sridevi Mukkamala, MD (Metro Health Medical Center, Cleveland, OH); Nishin Tambay, MD, e-mail: [email protected]


SETTING: Physical medicine and rehabilitation outpatient clinic in a tertiary care hospital. Patient: 26-year-old woman with postconcussive symptoms. Case Description: The patient had complained of headaches, impaired concentration, memory deficits, fatigue, and neck and upper back pain after a motor vehicle collision. She struck her head against the head support but remained conscious. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain were negative. She failed a trial of multiple medications and could not work. She was seen in our clinic 6 weeks postinjury. She was started on amantidine and referred to physical therapy (PT), rehabilitation psychology, and speech therapy. Patient experienced only partial relief of symptoms. She was treated with acupuncture once a week for 3 weeks. Standard acupoints on the scalp, face, back, and upper extremities were used. She had near-complete relief of symptoms and returned to work on a part-time basis. Within 2 days after returning to work, she experienced a recurrence of all her symptoms, however, with much less intensity. She underwent 3 more acupuncture treatments. All her symptoms resolved except the mild residual neck and upper back pain. She was referred to PT to enable her to return to her previous activities of yoga and rock climbing. Amantadine was stopped. Assessment/Results: 5 months after her initial injury, the patient returned to work full-time without recurrence of symptoms. Discussion: Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) presents a unique challenge to physiatrists. The symptoms can last for a significant period of time and may not respond to standard interventions. Conclusion: Our case report highlights the potential use of acupuncture to treat persistent symptoms in mild TBI.

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