Acupuncture Treatment for Post-stroke
What is stroke?
When the blood supply to the brain is disturbed in some way and brain cells are starved of oxygen causing some cells to die and leaving other cells damaged or dead, it's called stroke.
Stroke refers to a disorder manifested by sudden loss of consciousness with unilateral weakness, numbness, paralysis and dysphasia, or to a disorder manifested by sudden onset of unilateral paralysis and facial paralysis without experiencing unconsciousness.
What is post-stroke?
Post-stroke is occurring in or being in the period following a stroke.
There are many problems that may happen after a stroke. Most are common and will improve with acupuncture treatments.
Common physical conditions after a stroke include:
Weakness, paralysis, and problems with balance or coordination.
Pain, numbness, or burning and tingling sensations.
Fatigue, which may continue after you return home.
Inattention to one side of the body, also known as neglect; in extreme cases, you may not be aware of your arm or leg.
Urinary or bowel incontinence.
Speech problems or difficulty understanding speech, reading, or writing.
Memory problems, poor attention span, or difficulty solving problems.
Depression, anxiety, or mood swings with emotional outbursts.
Typical post-stroke care in the USA starts with seven days of hospital stay followed by one to two weeks of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in a rehabilitation facility. After three or more weeks of outpatient rehabilitation, the treatment comes to an end, but the patient’s recovery is far from complete.
Can acupuncture really benefit stroke patients?
Many people have asked this question. Our answer is a definite “yes”. Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for post-stroke rehabilitation. The efficacy is best when treatment is started as soon as possible. The acupuncture treatments accelerate stroke rehabilitation. Post-stroke acupuncture treatments help thousands of people every day in China. In America, more and more health care providers now recognize the value of these treatments and include them with conventional therapy.
Is acupuncture similar to physiotherapy?
• In physiotherapy, various special aids/ appliances, heat/ short wave treatment are used to improve/restore the neuro-muscular functions of the affected parts.
• Acupuncture stimulates specific acupoints which are part of an energy network running throughout the body, thereby restoring balance and promote healing.
• When used in combination, they complement each other to enhance and promote the healing process.
How soon can improvements be seen?
It varies depending on the severity of your conditions. In some cases, the effects cannot be immediately measured and it could be days or weeks before the impact of the treatment is noticeable. However, the Chinese experience over the last thirty years demonstrates the treatments reestablish sensory and motor abilities significantly sooner than do conventional physical therapies.
Acupuncture treatment techniques for post-stroke rehabilitation:
• Needling : using needles to stimulate the acupoints and meridians
• Needling + electrical stimulation
• Scalp needling
• Moxibustion : warming the needles burning moxa wool to stimulate the meridians and acupoints
• A combination of two or all of the above.
Effects of acupuncture on post-stroke patients
It is through the stimulation of the meridians and acupoints that acupuncture helps to regulate the qi and blood and then restore the ying/yang balance.
Based on Western and medical research, acupuncture has the following effects:
• Lower blood pressure
• Lower blood cholesterol level
• Regulate heart function
• Direct stimulation of the nerves and muscles, restoring its function
• Increase blood circulation to the brain
How soon should you start treatment?
• For cerebral haemorrhage: 2-3 weeks after condition stabilised
• For cerebral ischemia: 1 week after condition stabilised
• The earlier you start treatment the better the chance of a more complete recovery.
How many treatments do you need?
• 1 to 3 treatments per week or per month depending on the severity of your conditions
• You may need more treatments depending on the severity of your conditions
DOs and DON’Ts during treatment
• Do continue with the medicine that your doctor had prescribed for you
• Watch your diet – take more fish, fruits, vegetables and bean products. Avoid foods rich in salt, fats, and sugar
• Attend physiotherapy and exercise regularly and consistently to build up your strength and speech
• Don’t smoke
• Don’t drink alcohol
• Learn to relax