The American Heart Association (AHA) website recently released its 2010 statistics on stroke.Stroke is the third most common cause of death in Canada (14,000 deaths) and in the United States (4.3 per 100,00 population annually).
In addition, stroke remains to be the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States - where someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, on the average, and dies every 4 minutes. Stroke is one of the leading conditions that cause 45 million people in the United States with functional disabilities. Functional disabilities pertain to the difficulty in performing daily activities that involve vision, hearing and speech.
Despite considerable research methods on multiple treatment modalities, there is still no single rehabilitation intervention that unequivocally aids to recovery.This reality drives people to search for other modalities of treatment in attempt to further improve the outcome of stroke rehabilitation, such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Many studies in animals and humans have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses including circulatory and biochemical effects.The responses can occur locally at the site of insertion or distally.They are mediated mainly by sensory neurons and other structures within the central nervous system (CNS).This in turn leads to activation of pathways affecting various physiological systems in the brain as well as in the periphery.
Acupuncture is one of the main modalities of treatment in traditional Chinese Medicine and can be traced back more than 2000 years in China.Being relatively inexpensive and safe compared to other conventional therapies and interventions, acupuncture has been well accepted by many and is widely used to improve motor, sensation, speech and other neurological functions in patients with stroke.
By applying acupuncture to the skin of the scalp above the various regions of the cerebral cortex that have been damaged in an ischemic stroke we can increase blood flow and the metabolic activity of neural cells to help restore normal neural function. This treatment has been used successfully over the last 40 years to help patients suffering from hemiplegic and related neural deficiencies arising from strokes and other cerebral vascular diseases.
With the emergence of functional MRI we are learning more about acupuncture’s ability to increase neural activity within different locations in the brain using different acupuncture points and can now direct our treatments to the areas of the brain that were damaged by a cerebral vascular accident and areas of the brain that are thought to be impaired based on clinical findings. Within China’s modern day hospitals acupuncture is one of the first options for post-stroke rehabilitation patients once they are stable.
The best example of the popularity of acupuncture treatment for post-stroke patients can be seen at Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There, under the guidance of world renown professor Dr. Shi Xue Ming hundreds of post-stroke patients are treated daily with great success.
However, it is important to note that due to the devastating nature of stroke it is difficult to predict how quickly one will recover.There are many variables that factor into recovery for example, how long ago the patient suffered from stroke, how severe the stroke was and the patient’s overall constitution.
In any case, treatments should be given as quickly as possible following the stroke and should be performed at least once a day, every day for approximately 10-15 treatments.After the first course of treatment the patient should be allowed to rest for 5 days and a second course of treatment should follow.The longer the duration after the stroke the more difficult it is to treat.
Chinese herbal medicine, cupping, tui na massage and moxibustion is often combined with acupuncture treatments to aid in the recovery.
It is also important to stress that Chinese medicine places great emphasis on prophylactic care and the prevention of disease. Diet, exercise and stress are factors that are easily addressed before the situation becomes serious.Chinese physicians discovered early the warning signs of an evolving stroke and came up with individualized treatment methods to help arrest its development. This is good news for people suffering from TIA, hemi diaphoresis, sporadic feelings of numbness and weakness within the limbs, vascular disease, poor circulation, and chronic high blood pressure; all of which if untreated could lead to a stroke.
Through changes in life style and regular acupuncture therapy all of these conditions can be managed and in most cases reversed before they become life threatening.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat post-stroke patients in China. Even with the advancements in modern medicine that have since taken place acupuncture still remains one of the first lines of treatment for thousands of post-stroke patients each day. Let us help you to regain your health and your independence.
Further research and stories regarding on Acupuncture’s effect on post-stroke recovery: