Background and Purpose: Lower limb spasticity is often a significant problem in stoke rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of acupuncture treatment on lower limb spasticity in patients following hemorrhagic stroke. Methods: Fifty-nine patients following hemorrhagic stroke were randomized to receive acupuncture treatment combined with conventional treatment (treatment group [TG]) or conventional treatment only (control group [CG]). Acupuncture treatments were given in 24 sessions over 4 weeks. Blinded evaluation was based on Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), short intracortical inhibition (SICI), and Hmax/Mmax ratio as the primary outcomes. In addition, Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA), Barthel Index (BI), motor evoked potential (MEP) and surface integrated electromyogram (IEMG) were employed as the secondary outcomes. All the evaluations were performed at 14 and 28 days after the start of the treatment. Results: Compared with the CG, the TG showed a significantly greater over-time decrease in MAS for knee (p = 0.022) and ankle (p = 0.017), SICI (p = 0.000) and Hmax/Mmax ratio (p = 0.000). In all patients of TG, we found a greater improvement in lower-limb FMA and MEP but not in BI. IEMG show that TG obtained a greater reduction in spastic agonist muscles and a greater enhancement in spastic antagonist muscles. A significant correlation between a greater decrease in ankle MAS and a greater increase in SICI for spastic muscles was found (r = 0.390, p = 0.002). Conclusions: Acupuncture could improve the lower limb spasticity and motor function, thus providing a safe and economical approach for treating stroke patients. The potential mechanism underpinning the greater improvement may be attributed to a reshape of corticospinal plasticity induced by acupuncture.

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