Stroke is a common cause of death. Strokes often leave patients with debilitated lives. Studies show acupuncture may be effective for stroke treatment. Increase quality of life. Reducing damage and improving recovery.
A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain gets blocked or bursts. As a result part of the brain does not get the blood it needs. This part of the brain starts to die.
This article is based on a report by The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The report summarizes various studies on the benefit of acupuncture. Acupuncture as a treatment for stroke.
There are two main types of stroke. Stroke caused by blocked artery. Stroke caused by burst artery.
Multiple Factors Influence Stroke Effect
Effects of stroke vary from person to person. Factors such as type, severity, location of the brain and number play a part. There are three main parts to the brain. Cerebrum (left and right), Cerebellum and Brainstem. Where in the brain the stroke occurs will determine the effect.
Stroke in the left Cerebrum affects the right side of the body. Left-side weakness or paralysis. Speech and language. Number/math, writing, reasoning, analytical and learning skills are impaired.
Stroke in the right Cerebrum affects the left side of the body. Right-side weakness or paralysis. Perception of up, down, front or back (spacial orientation). Inability to draw, appreciate art or music. Lack of insight to emotions.
Cerebellum and Brainstem
Stroke in the Cerebellum affects motor skills. Muscle action, control, fine motor skills, movement and balance.
Stoke in the Brainstem affects ‘life-support’ functions. Breathing and heart beat, body temperature, vision, speaking and coma.
Acupuncture for Stroke Treatment – reduces damage and protects
Post stroke therapy aims to improve quality of life.
China has a long tradition of treating stroke with acupuncture. It is evident that acupuncture reduced damage, regenerates and protects. Acupuncture reduces the damage to the heart (myocardial injury). Acupuncture promotes neurological function recovery. This is the process of the brain ‘repairing’ itself to normal function. Generating new or ‘re-purposing’ brain cells to promote proper function (endogenous neurogenesis). Over and above, acupuncture played a protective role. Protecting neuron structure and function from further damage.
Treatment During Stroke Stages – the day after
Stroke can be seen to go through stages. Different acupuncture stimulation during stages has shown to be effective. Acupuncture one day after stroke reduced the area of damage to the brain. It increased the release of peptides and proteins. These support the growth, survival and differentiation of neurons (Neurotrophic factors). Both developing and mature. The effect of acupuncture activated processes that prevent cells from dying (anti-apoptosis process). Acupuncture one day after stroke has the effect of reducing damage. Also repairing and protecting brain function.
Treatment during the early stage stroke is critical for better recovery. Acupuncture administered during early stroke had the following benefits. Reduced blood pressure. Reduced the volume of hemorrhaged blood. Improved neurological damage.
Acupuncture and Cognitive Dysfunction
Stroke patients often develop cognitive dysfunction years after the stroke. These range from mild impairment to dementia. Acupuncture administered in conjunction with other medication showed a significant improvement. This was compared to results of non- acupuncture based treatments.
Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack
Stroke patients are at high risk of heart attack. This risk decreased significantly with patients who had acupuncture.
Acupuncture Stroke Treatment and Motor Function Recovery
Stimulating the acupoint GB34 helps motor function recovery. Stimulation increases neuron activity in motor-related brain regions.
Acupuncture is an effective post-stroke rehabilitation tool. Especially effective for mobility function and cognitive ability. Improvement here significantly improves quality of life.
Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Many symptoms of Ataxia mimic those of being drunk. Such as slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and in-coordination. These symptoms are caused by damage to the cerebellum. Cerebellum is the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating movement. A patient with 2 year ataxia after stroke. Extreme difficulty walking and standing, requiring the support of two people. With specific acupuncture protocols, this patient walked unassisted after two months.
Recovery During the Subacute Stage
Subacute stage of stroke occurs between 1 – 6 months after stroke. Better recovery during this stage is critical to long term recovery. Acupuncture is more effective than traditional therapy in improving functional activities. This was against a base line test of non-acupuncture therapy.
Prevention is better than cure. Acupuncture is well known for encouraging and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This in itself reduces the risk of stroke.
At MCIM, we use a wide range of complementary medicines. For an appointment or more information please call Karen on 011 433 0066 or 011 027 1190.
- Acupuncture Treatment for Stroke | The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Effects of Stroke | John Hopkins Medicine.
- Types of Stroke | American Stroke Association