Objective: To investigate the effects of Kinesio taping for stroke patients with hemiplegic shoulder pain. Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Subjects: Twenty-one stroke patients with hemiplegic shoulder pain within 6 months of stroke onset in the rehabilitation ward of a medical university hospital in Taiwan. Methods: A 3-week intervention involving a conventional rehabilitation protocol and therapeutic Kinesio taping was conducted with an experimental group of 11 stroke patients. A control group of 10 stroke patients underwent an identical conventional rehabilitation programme and sham Kinesio taping on the hemiplegic shoulder. Numerical rating scale scores, Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, ultrasound findings and pain-free passive range of motion of the affected shoulder, were evaluated before and after the intervention. Mann-Whitney test was used to compare within-group continuous variables before and after the intervention. Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to analyse the differences and changes in values between study and control groups. Results: There was no statistical difference in demographic variables between the 2 groups. Both groups showed improvement in passive range of motion of the shoulder, (mean numerical rating scale 2.36 (standard deviation (SD) 1.03)), and mean Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (16.64 (SD 2.62)) after the intervention (p < 0.001); however, no significant between-group differences were observed in the numerical rating scale score, pain-free passive ROM, and ultrasound findings for the shoulder after 3 weeks of treatment. Concerning the variables changes, the therapeutic Kinesio taping group showed more improvement in the numerical rating scale (p = 0.008), shoulder flexion (p = 0.008), external rotation (p = 0.006), internal rotation (p = 0.040), and Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (p < 0.001) than the sham Kinesio taping group. Conclusion: Stroke patients with hemiplegic shoulder pain can experience greater reductions in Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, pain, and improvement in shoulder flexion, external, and internal rotation after 3 weeks of Kinesio taping intervention compared with sham Kinesio taping. Kinesio taping may be an alternative treatment option for stroke patients with hemiplegic shoulder pain.
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