Stroke

Acupuncture For Stroke Treatment

There is a lot of information on the internet about stroke treatment. A big research project across many pages and many tabs.

Here we have compiled an article on stroke treatment. The journey from what it is, to how to treat it.

On leaving this page we hope you will be better informed to make a decision on your health and the ones you love.

The Stats: How Does Stroke Affect Australians?

The soaring stroke stats that will make you read on!


These are a few of the important facts according to the Stroke Foundation:

  1. Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.
  2. Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.
  3. In 2017 there will be more than 55,000 new and recurrent strokes.  That is 1000 strokes every week or one stroke every 10 minutes.
  4. More than 80% of strokes can be prevented.
  5. In 2017 there will be more than 470,000 people living with the effects of stroke. This is predicted to increase to 709,000 by 2032.
  6. Around 30% of stroke survivors are of working age-under the age of 65. This equates to around 1 in 3 of the 55,000 strokes each year.
  7. 65% of stroke survivors suffer a disability.  This impedes their ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted.
  8. The financial cost of stroke in Australia is estimated to be $5 billion each year.

According to WorldLifeExpectancy , the figures are far worse for the rest of the world. Here is a glimpse of the USA.

Approximately 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. Three in four being first-time strokes.

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, killing over 128,000 per year. That’s one in every 20 deaths.

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability.  It also the leading preventable cause of disability.

More women than men have strokes each year, in part because women live longer.

“Impact of Stroke (Stroke Statistics).” 2017. Accessed July 25. http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/Impact-of-Stroke-Stroke-statistics_UCM_310728_Article.jsp#.WXaxK9OGNTZ.

What Is a Stroke?

The reality: this is what happens in the brain


Types of stroke: How the two types of stroke happen

A stroke can happen in two main ways:

  • a blood clot or plaque that blocks a blood vessel in the brain
  • a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures.

A stroke caused by a blood clot is known as a ischaemic stroke. A blood cot in the body serves a practical purpose. When you cut yourself  it is the clot that slows and stops the bleeding. A necessity in daily living.

In the case of stroke, blood cots are dangerous, as they block arteries and cut of blood flow. About 4 out of every 5 strokes are ischaemic. There are two ways ischaemic stroke can occur.

Bleed in the brain

(The cause of a Haemorrhagic stroke)

Strokes caused by a break in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain are called haemorrhagic strokes. This causes blood to leak into the brain, again stopping the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

Haemorrhagic stroke can be caused by a number of disorders. These affect the blood vessels, including long-standing high blood pressure and cerebral aneurysms.

An aneurysm is a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel wall. The weak spots that cause aneurysms are usually present at birth.

Aneurysms develop over many years.  They usually don’t cause detectable problems until they break. About 1 in every 5 strokes is haemorrhagic and there are two types. They are described by their location in the brain.

There are two types:

Intracerebral – when an artery inside the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain. The most common cause is high blood pressure (hypertension).

Subarachnoid  (SAH) is bleeding on the surface of the brain. There are 3 layers of membrane (or meninges) that cover the brain. This haemorrhage happens between the layer closest to the brain and the second layer.

https://strokefoundation.org.au/en/About-Stroke/Types-of-stroke/Haemorrhagic-stroke-bleed-in-the-brain#sthash.KGbJwedi.dpuf

Mini Stroke

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is sometimes termed a minor stroke or “mini stroke”. This term is used when the signs of stroke are present but go away within 24 hours.

The causes and symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack are similar to those of a stroke. TIA episodes usually last only a few minutes but may last for several hours. They generally disappear quickly and unfortunately, are often ignored.

Like a stroke, a TIA will need emergency treatment. About 1 in 5 people who have a TIA will have a major stroke within the next three months.  A large part of the risk occurs in the first few days.

Never ignore TIA.

TIA’s should be regarded as a warning sign that the person is at risk of a stroke.  Investigate immediately! It is important that if stroke symptoms occur the person sees a doctor promptly… even if the signs go away and you feel completely better.

“Types of Stroke — Stroke Foundation – Australia.” n.d. https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Types-of-stroke.

The Western Treatment Approach

What to expect in the first few days


Once admitted to hospital the doctors will do a range of tests.  These tests will determine whether the symptoms are definitely due to stroke.

They will work out the type  of stroke, find out what area of the brain was damaged and how severe  the damage is. If possible, they will find out and start treating the  cause of the stroke.

Everyone will need a different set of tests. These include brain  scans, heart tests and blood tests.

Regular observations will also be  taken to monitor:

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • temperature
  • blood sugar  levels
  • oxygen levels
  • breathing patterns

You will have one-on-one assessments with members of the treating  team… as soon as possible after your stroke. Each team member will focus  on a different part of your care but the team will work together to meet  your needs.

Ischemic stroke patients are often given warfarin (also known by brand name coumadin).

Warfarin is an anti-coagulant, a blood thinner. It prevents formation of new clots but it does nothing about clots that have already formed. In other words, it does not help stroke patients recover.

Overdosage of warfarin or coumadin can cause internal bleeding. This side-effect is not surprising. Warfarin was first developed as a potent rodent poison.

“What to Expect in the First Few Days.” n.d. Enable Me. /Resources/What-to-expect-in-the-first-few-days.

Types of Acupuncture Used for Treating Stroke

Learn the most effective acupuncture treatment


Which acupuncture protocol is better for treating strokes?

Conventional Chinese acupuncture and scalp acupuncture are both used to treat stroke. For many years Dr Zhu had used conventional body acupuncture to treat strokes.  He was not satisfied with the results.

In the 1970’s he started to explore scalp acupuncture and developed Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture. For neurological conditions such as strokes, scalp acupuncture is the most effective.

“Stroke | Scalp Acupuncture.” n.d. http://www.scalpacupuncture.org/services/our-specialties/stroke/.

What is Scalp Acupuncture?

Learn it's benefits and how it differs from body acupuncture


Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture (ZSA) is a specialised microsystem acupuncture technique.

Other variations of these microsystem techniques include the ear, hand, nose and so on.

In scalp acupuncture, very short, fine needles are inserted in the scalp. These insertions achieve desired therapeutic effects on different parts of the body.

This technique has yielded outstanding results for thousands of patients. It  has become recognized worldwide. It is one of the most effective treatments for many difficult-to-manage conditions.

“What Is Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture? | Scalp Acupuncture.” n.d. http://www.scalpacupuncture.org/services/what-is-zhus-scalp-acupuncture/.

What Makes Scalp Acupuncture Different to Body Acupuncture?

Three basic features of scalp acupuncture that differentiate it from body acupuncture:

1. Treatment zones have been mapped onto the scalp.  These zones are associated with body functions and broad body regions.

The zones include a few standard acupuncture points. The point selection is not based on the standard body acupuncture principles though.

In general, the forward part of the zone (nearer the face) is used to treat the upper body. While the rear part of the zone is used to treat the lower body.

Functional zones, such as sensory, memory, and motor, are usually located at the back and sides of the scalp.

Click here to read more on this article 

2. The needles are inserted within a thin layer of loose tissue beneath the scalp surface. The angle is about 15–30 degrees.

The insertion varies according to the size of the body treated. Usually it is about one inch for an adult.

For body acupuncture of the scalp a smaller insertion with a 60-90 degree angle is used.

3. For scalp acupuncture, the needles are to be subjected to rapid stimulation. This rapid stimulation can be carried out in a variety of ways. This includes pulling/thrusting, twirling, and electro-stimulation.

It is common to stimulate the needles for 2–3 minutes at a time, with a rest period of 5–10 minutes between stimulations.

Standard acupuncture applied to scalp points usually involves less rapid stimulation. 

The Correct Needle Manipulation

The needle is inserted along the practitioner’s pad of the finger. For a pain free experience the needle is inserted deliberately to avoid the blood vessels. The direction of needling is usually based on the mapping of the body within the zone. The needle is aimed along the line of the zone — corresponding to the area of the body affected.

Upon inserting the needle, stimulation is applied for 1–2 minutes .  The needles are manipulated after intervals of 10–15 minutes, for 1–2 minutes each time.  This happens throughout the duration of the patient visit, which may be as long as 2–3 hours.

The needles should remain in the scalp for at least 4 hours and up to 4 days. For treatment of acute symptoms, 0.5–1 hour is enough.

For children and weak adults, the time of retention should be shorter.

At Zhu’s clinic, the scalp needles are often left in place until the next visit, which is 24–48 hours later.

There are two basic needling methods for manipulating the qi.

In Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture Dr Zhu has designated them  jinqi and chouqi.

Jinqi (jin means move forward) is a tonifying, thrusting method.

Chouqi (chou means to withdraw) is a sedating, reducing method.

For the majority of neurological disorders, the tonification technique jinqi is used. ,

In cases of pain syndromes, the draining method chouqi is used.

During the stimulations, both the practitioner and the patient focus on the breath.  This is an aspect of qigong therapy incorporated into the treatment.

There should be no talking during needle stimulus. All attention is on the needling and its effects.  The mental focus is on “directing the breath” to the body part treated.

Heat lamps can be used to provide heat to an affected body part when necessary.

The affected part of the body is to be moved during needle stimulation.  If the person cannot move they can visualise moving the breath to the affected part.  When possible, an assistant may help.

After the needle stimulation, Dr Zhu encourages the patient to continue the movements.

In cases where the legs are involved, the patient walks. Several patients at Zhu’s clinic would walk around the block, others might walk the length of the room.

A function of scalp acupuncture is to improve or re-establish the connection. This is from the central nervous system (CNS) to the peripheral nervous system (PNS).  The sending of these signals during treatment is critical.

The intention sends signals from the CNS to the PNS. Movements of the body part then sends signals back from PNS to the CNS.

Before withdrawing the needles, Zhu recommends manipulating the needle again. This happens while the patient performs breathing exercises.

Withdrawal should be rapid. The punctured site should then be pressed for a while with a dry cotton ball to avoid bleeding.

Body points are sometimes used as an adjunct to the scalp acupuncture therapy.

“Synopsis of Scalp Acupuncture.” 2017. Accessed July 26. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/newscalp.htm.

 

What Is Daoyin?

This is the essential secret to a promising, targeted and speedy recovery


Daoyin is an ancient Chinese body-mind exercise.  In the beginning, Daoyin was a form of health care, as well as physical and spiritual purification.

Daoyin in Chinese means “to lead and guide”. It is a term referring to any activity that helps to guide the flow of Qi.

In 1974, a silk painting was discovered in an archaeological site dated 200 B.C. in Changsha, China. Entitled Daoyin Tu it illustrated many postures and exercises that ancient people used. These exercises were used to maintain good health and physical flexibility.

 

Dao Yin

Trad.dǎo yǐnsame as 引導|引导[yin3 dao3]

Dao Yin, Daoist exercises involving breathing, stretching and self-massage

Professor Zhu is the first one to integrate Daoyin into acupuncture treatments.

Patients take part in various physical and mental exercises with relaxation. This takes place during the needle retention period.

The combination of acupuncture and Daoyin magnifies the results .

Scalp acupuncture is not simply an act of inserting needles at certain points.

Scalp acupuncture is a complete therapy that involves, besides needling:

  • psychological counselling
  • encouragement – building the patient’s confidence to heal
  • helping the patient to relax
  • teaching the patient how to talk and to move

All these things are Daoyin and are integrated into every session.

Daoyin has a much broader implication than conventional physical, occupational or speech therapy.

Our acupuncturists customise specific daoyin activities to suit the needs of the patient…  at particular points in time.

The following are a few examples of Daoyin:

(a) A stroke patient with slurred speech moves their tongue. This movement is in different directions while making sounds during the acupuncture.

(b) A stroke patient with facial palsy opens and closes their affected eye. At the same time, they exercise their face muscles during the acupuncture.

(c) A stroke patient with paralytic lower limb stands and walks with support.

(d) A stroke patient with paralytic upper limb pushes and pulls on their affected arm. This takes place during needle manipulation.

Acupuncture with Daoyin is not a replacement therapy. It use enhances conventional rehabilitation therapies.

But, there are several areas where they differ.

(a) Our approach is proactive. We help a patient sit before he can sit on his own.

We make the first attempt to stand when the patient cannot even imagine or believe it is possible.

We provide whatever support the patient needs to regain their lost function… instead of waiting for the first sign of the function to come back.

A proactive approach speeds up recovery and boosts the patient’s self-confidence.

9 (b) When doing Daoyin, we give the patient only minimal help.  Adequate precaution and safety measures are paramount.

The more active efforts from the patient, the better the treatment results. By the same token, we discourage the use of limb supports. Muscles, tendons and ligaments are strengthened by proper exercise.

Unlike conventional therapy, we support patients on their paralyzed side. This results in a better outcome than supporting the good one.

“Dao Yin | Definition | Mandarin Chinese Pinyin English Dictionary | Yabla Chinese.” 2017. Accessed July 26. https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-english-pinyin-dictionary.php?define=dao+yin.
 
“What Is Daoyin Therapy? | Scalp Acupuncture.” n.d. http://www.scalpacupuncture.org/services/what-is-daoyin-therapy/.

Treating Stroke - The Quicker the Better

This ancient healing system vastly improves a stroke patient’s recovery… without the fear of drug interaction or further injury.


When a medical emergency occurs, what’s the first thing we do. Thats right! We rush to the emergency department at the hospital. This indispensable service saves lives!  But what happens next?

The journey for most people suffering from a stroke starts here. This is where healing and recuperation begin. The doctors usually like to track people for quite some time after the initial incident. They regulate their medication and rehab accordingly.

Acupuncture for Stroke Treatment

Few people in the general public are aware of scalp acupuncture for stroke treatment. This ancient healing system vastly improves a stroke patient’s recovery… without the fear of drug interaction or further injury.

The key to improvement lies in the gap between the stroke and the acupuncture treatment… days after the event is best. The shorter the gap the quicker the recovery. Yet, we can still make a difference: weeks, months and even years after the initial injury.

The brain and neurological system is very plastic… but after a traumatic injury such as stroke, it is in a state of shock. To change this state, treatment with acupuncture should happen as soon as possible. The repair process can begin.

Scar Tissue Development Following Stroke

Acupuncture encourages this plasticity of the neurological system to halt scar tissue development. This scar tissue will inhibit any neurological activity in that area inhibiting recovery.

Scalp acupuncture is one of our main treatment strategies for stroke victims. It is often combined with points on the body, depending on how the stroke manifests.  This method is completely safe.  It follows the neurological pathways in the brain and body respectively.

Needles are often retained in the scalp for several days, to achieve best results.  The treatment is ongoing while the needles remain inserted.

Acupuncture and Stroke Rehabilitation

We see a big improvement in patient health by combining scalp acupuncture and daoyin. The use of the patients own will is intrinsic to this rehabilitation. The affected area needs to be used for it to get better!  And the patient needs to be the one who does this. We do not just rely only on the unaffected parts and rehabilitation/movement aids.

The act of using one’s own will gets that specific part of the neurological system to function again…. even if the body part can no longer move.  The process needs to begin somewhere.

Preventing Complications Following a Stroke

Beware: These important points may limit your recovery results


Seizures

Because anti-seizure medication is usually sedative, it hampers the rehabilitation process. Scalp acupuncture is an effective substitute without causing adverse side-effects.

Blood Thinning

Avoid overuse of warfarin or coumadin to prevent secondary hemorrhage.

Body Postures

Spasticity does not set in immediately after a stroke.  It can be avoided if more attention is given to body postures in the first month.

Always keep the patient’s head, body, and limbs in normal physiological positions. Special consideration must be given to the the joints – neck, elbow, wrist, fingers, ankle and feet.

PCOM. 2015. “Can Acupuncture Really Benefit Stroke Recovery?” Pacific College. July 27. http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/07/27/can-acupuncture-really-benefit-stroke-recovery.

What is Stroke Sequaelae and How Can Scalp Acupuncture Accelerate Recovery


On the Sustain Health website we have previously blogged on this topic. Here is an excerpt from that post…

Scalp acupuncture is very safe and one of the most effective ways to accelerate the recovery or rehabilitation from stroke sequaelae.

You may ask, what does the word  sequaelae  mean?

Well, according to MedicineNet.com Sequaela is a pathological condition resulting from a prior disease, injury, or attack.

In most cases a sequela is a chronic condition, that is a complication which follows a more acute condition—it is different from, but is a consequence of, the first condition.

When combined with an appropriate rehabilitation program, scalp acupuncture produces rapid changes and improvement to motor and sensory function.  

In comparison, traditional body acupuncture treatment for stroke sequaelae often produces slower effects.

Patients who have had previous acupuncture treatment often describe their practitioner using many points on their body. It is then a surprise to these patients, when I use points on the scalp and often on the side opposite to their affected side.

Because of the neural plasticity of the brain, scalp acupuncture can effectively facilitate and stimulate the brain’s neural pathways to reorganize or regenerate to reconnect to existing neural motor and sensory pathways.

To read more click here

Stroke and Acupuncture the Evidence for Effectiveness


Review of Clinical Applications of Scalp Acupuncture for Paralysis: An Excerpt From Chinese Scalp Acupuncture

Below we have a summary of the introduction to the above article. Please click the link to read the full article

Chinese scalp acupuncture is a contemporary acupuncture technique. The technique integrates traditional Chinese needling methods with Western medical  knowledge. In particular, the representative areas of the cerebral cortex.

It has been proven to be a most effective technique for treating acute and chronic central nervous system disorders.

Scalp acupuncture often produces remarkable results with just a few needles. It usually brings about  immediate improvement. Sometimes taking only several seconds to a  minute.

Immediate effects of scalp acupuncture with twirling reinforcing manipulation on hemiplegia following acute ischemic stroke: a hidden association study.

Acupuncture with twirling reinforcing manipulation has distinct effects on acute ischemic stroke  patients with different symptoms or stages of disease. Improved muscle  tension in the upper and lower limbs, reflected by the variation in the Hmax/Mmax ratio, is crucial for recovery of motor function from  hemiplegia.

[Effects of Acupuncture Intervention Combined with Rehabilitation on Standing-balance-walking Ability in Stroke Patients].

Acupuncture stimulation of lateral side of BL 10 combined with scalp-points has a significant benefit for stroke patients in standing-balance ability and walking ability.

[The combined application of scalp and body acupuncture by stages for low limb dysfunction of patients with apoplexy].

The combined therapy of the scalp and body acupuncture in the staging treatment improves obviously the motor function of the  lower extremities and the activities of daily living for the patients  with cerebral apoplexy. This therapy recovers as quickly as possible the walking ability and speed for the patients, which is superior to the conventional acupuncture in comparison.

Can Acupuncture Really Benefit Stroke Recovery?

The answer is clear! 4 case studies from Dr Zhu's clinic you need to read


Below is an excerpt from an article written by By Ming Qing Zhu, LAc, OMD (China) and Moyee Siu, LAc, MTCM

In this article Dr Zhu highlights room for improvement in standard stroke protocol. In one study on ischemic stroke survivors who were at least 65 years of age the following disabilities were observed, six months after stroke:

  • 50% had some hemiparesis
  • 30% were unable to walk without some assistance
  • 26% were dependent in activities of daily living
  • 19% had aphasia
  • 26% were institutionalized in a nursing home

Can Acupuncture Really Benefit Stroke Recovery?

Many people have asked this question. Our answer is a definite “yes”.

Recent western research make the claim that there is no clear evidence for the additional value of acupuncture for post-stroke rehabilitation.

Why is there a discrepancy?

Both statements are valid.

What is more accurate is that acupuncture can significantly benefit stroke patients if it is done right, but otherwise it is of little value.

Our experience demonstrates that when applied correctly, acupuncture can shorten recovery time. This can happen in as little as two weeks and restore function to over 95% in some patients.

Case Reports

In December 2010, a man in his fifties suffered an ischemic stroke. Three days after the stroke onset, he presented himself at our clinic with slurred speech, right hemiparesis and wheelchair bound. After two hours of acupuncture treatment, he was able to move his right upper extremity. The next day, less than 24 hours later, he stood up and walked on his own. On his third day of treatment, he climbed the stairs. He recovered all motor functions within two weeks.

One night in 1992 a man suddenly dropped on the floor and became stuporous. A CT scan of his brain revealed a large lesion in the left cortex and basal ganglia, due to hemorrhage of the middle cerebral artery. Within seven hours, we started Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture treatment on him, and continued for 20 consecutive days. Two weeks later, he started to talk. After three months, he was able to return full-time to his acupuncture practice and administrative work.

In 1998, a 55 year-old man discharged himself from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital of Taiwan, despite his doctor’s advice. It was the 8th day after his stroke when he arrived at our clinic in a wheelchair. His ischemic stroke left him paralyzed on the right side. Twenty minutes after applying scalp acupuncture needles, he stood up. An hour later, he took a few steps. After two weeks of daily acupuncture, he started walking with a cane. He ultimately regained all of his gross and fine movements. Today he is living his life as a fully recovered stroke patient and still persists in his daily exercise routine to stay healthy.

In 2007, an MD referred his 58-year-old male patient to us. This patient had an ischemic stroke and was bedridden for 20 days. On the first visit, he came in a wheelchair, but walked out of our clinic down two flights of stairs without assistance. After 10 daily Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture treatments of three hours each, he returned to work.

These four case histories are a small sample of the large number of stroke cases Zhu’s have treated. What is common in these patients is that all were treated very early and had nearly full functional recovery.

Conclusion

Acupuncture can be a major benefit to stroke rehabilitation when administered correctly. Results are most remarkable in the acute stage.

First, treatment must begin promptly. Earlier intervention promises fewer deficits.

Second, an effective acupuncture system should be employed.

Scalp acupuncture excels over body acupuncture in treating neurological conditions such as strokes. After insertion, needles should be manipulated to ensure qi flow.

Third, appropriate Daoyin must be carried out simultaneously.

Finally, treatments have to be repeated frequently for reinforcement. In this manner a stroke patient will achieve a faster and more complete recovery.

PCOM. 2015. “Can Acupuncture Really Benefit Stroke Recovery?” Pacific College. July 27. http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/07/27/can-acupuncture-really-benefit-stroke-recovery.

Find out how our experienced practitioners can help you with a scalp acupuncture treatment for stroke