Effects of Self-Administered Acupressure on Fatigue Following Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Shu Mei Chen, Wan Ling Chen, Chen Jei Tai, Shu Hua Hsieh, Che Kuang Lin, Pin Yuan Chen, Hui Chuan Huang, Yen Chun Fan, Hsiao Yean Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Fatigue is a common symptom after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and may persist for weeks or years. However, nonpharmacological management strategies for fatigue alleviations are almost nonexistent; thus, effective fatigue management programs are needed urgently. Purposes: We aimed to evaluate the effects of self-administered acupressure programs on post-TBI fatigue and heart rate variability and identify the possible correlation between the improvements in fatigue symptoms and the changes in heart rate variability. Design: This randomized controlled trial included 2-point acupressure (TPA; n = 27), 5-point acupressure (FPA; n = 27), and usual care (UC, control; n = 27) groups who underwent several assessments before and after the study intervention. Heart rate variability was evaluated at baseline, weeks 2 and 3, and treatment completion. Methods: The TPA and FPA groups self-administered acupressure (3 minutes per acupoint; bilateral), thrice daily for 4 weeks, whereas the UC group received routine treatment without acupressure. Results: Both the TPA and FPA groups exhibited substantial improvements in fatigue symptoms compared with the baseline findings in the UC group. In addition, the TPA and FPA groups exhibited increased high-frequency power and mean number of times per hour in which the changes in successive normal sinus intervals (RR) gradually exceeded 50 ms (pNN50). Changes in high-frequency power and pNN50 were correlated with improvements in post-TBI fatigue symptoms. Conclusion: Acupressure may alleviate chronic fatigue and enhance parasympathetic activity in TBI survivors. The enhancement of parasympathetic activity may be correlated with improvements in post-TBI fatigue symptoms. Relevance to Clinical Practice: Healthcare providers should incorporate self-administered acupressure into the care plans for TBI survivors to improve their fatigue symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E404-E413
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2023

Keywords

  • acupressure
  • fatigue
  • heart rate variability
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology

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