Stroke Recovery and Acupuncture (Opinion)
Acupuncture treatments work by restoring circulation. The acupuncture points open up circulation in the body and help it to function normally.
When a person has a stroke, the brain stops communicating to the body part that is affected. This is a very simplistic explanation of strokes, but it helps to see it this way.
If you have had a stroke that affects the left side of your body, you can try to move your left hand, but cannot. Your brain no longer controls your left hand. How can you treat this? Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective to treat stroke symptoms.
Using acupuncture points on the arm that open circulation in the arm, such as Large Intestine 4 and Large Intestine 11, are often used to treat arm or hand pain. These points can be used to treat stroke patients also. The points are often used with electro-acupuncture to stimulate the communication between the limb and the brain. You can look at it like an information highway. The brain normally controls the hand, but the communication is BLOCKED due to the stroke. If you stimulate the hand and arm with acupuncture, your brain can start to recognize the arm again.
The sooner you get acupuncture after a stroke, the faster your recovery will be. The longer you wait after a stroke, the more likely your muscles will go “flaccid” or asleep. Your muscles will be weak and you will have to build them back up again so you have the muscles to function with the restored nerve flow.
There is a movie about a man who was a bodybuilder and a very healthy person. He had a stroke in his 30’s. He was devastated and completely paralyzed. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but by the end he was walking with help.
He went to China to go through a special stroke recovery program that lasted 90 days. If he had gone to get this acupuncture stroke therapy within a few weeks of the stroke, I personally believe he would have had a complete recovery within 90 days. It is very important to start acupuncture therapy as quickly as possible after a stroke.
Many patients are using Coumadin after a stroke. Coumadin is used to thin the blood and reduce the likelihood of another stroke. Most strokes are called “thrombotic” strokes and are caused by clots. Some strokes are caused by broken blood vessels. I have used Tru OPC’s, which is grape seed extract, to repair blood vessels in my patients who have weak blood vessels, which is evidenced by excessive bleeding during acupuncture.
There is no contraindication in most people to get acupuncture when on Coumadin. It is my experience that the only people who bleed at all, even a drop, after acupuncture have weak blood vessels caused by high blood sugar levels (My Theory).
I treated my dad after his stroke in 1997. I was able to treat him the first weak after his stroke. I used smokeless moxa and acupuncture on his legs and arm and within a few days he was walking almost normally. His leg had gone cold and numb. As long as your limb is COLD, you do not get good blood flow. Your blood naturally does not flow well when you are cold. When you warm the tissue, the blood will be able to start circulating again.
The name of the movie which documents a man’s journey to recover from a stroke is called “9,000 needles”. 9000 Needles I highly recommend this movie. I am glad they had the courage to document their journey and were open minded enough to get acupuncture. In the movie, they said that the stroke recovery program was 3 months and cost $20,000. I was very impressed with the therapy given in the hospital. He was unable to raise his right leg upon entering the treatment facility. Within one day he was able to raise it. That is the only spoiler I’m giving.