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Spasticity is a common symptom in patients with a history of stroke which can alter a variety of daily and functional tasks, decreasing quality of life. Increase in resting muscle tone following stroke, in conjunction with resistance to stretch, impact the ease by which individuals move and ambulate. Currently, the most common treatment option for treating spasticity is pharmacological treatment, which has potential for adverse side effects. Dry needling may serve as an alternative option to reduce spasticity while minimizing likelihood for systemic side effects known to pharmacological management. This project sought to identify the effectiveness of dry needling in reducing spasticity within the upper and lower extremity in patients with a history of chronic stroke via completion of an evidence synthesis. A literature search in PubMed and CINAHL was performed using broad terms of “dry needling” AND “stroke.” Peer-reviewed journal articles were searched between 2010 to 2020 leading to 25 articles. Through screening and eligibility assessment, 10 articles (5 RCT, 5 case reports) were included in the evidence synthesis. Improvement in spasticity was identified in each article, as assessed by various outcome measures. Each article utilized the Ashworth Scale or a derivation of the scale. Five articles demonstrated spasticity improvements within one hour. The five remaining articles identified longer lasting improvements at one week or longer. This evidence synthesis suggests that dry needling may be an effective treatment for decreasing spasticity in patients with chronic stroke.

First Advisor

Adam Ladwig