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Treatment for Stroke

blue-light / 2011-06-01
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Stroke treatment is required for about 700,000 new Americans each year according to the American Heart Association. That means every 45 seconds someone has an stroke in this country. More than 60 percent occur in females and nearly 30 percent of all victims are under age 65.
If a person survives the attack, they are often left with any number of physical challenges. It is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Today, about 5.5 million survivors are living in the United States.

Though for many acupuncture is a new treatment, both the U.N. World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health endorse acupuncture as a treatment for stroke-related disabilities.

Acupuncture is giving new hope to stroke patients all over the world. Please keep in mind that the best results are achieved for those who seek early treatment. Please read these pages and learn more about effective treatment.

Stroke Therapy
The New Stroke Therapy
Acupuncture Treatment for Stroke
Stroke therapy is the most rewarding professional experience for many of us in the field of acupuncture. Acupuncture is most effective in treating patients within six months (the earlier the better) of their attack and the results can be quite impressive.
Within weeks I've had patients stop dragging their foot, improve in mobility, speak more clearly, improve their mood, and decrease their pain levels. I even have patients come in and say their co-workers and family members comment on how much better they are functioning at work and at home. It is so satisfying to see a patient improve so dramatically in such a short span of time.

Patients who come in years after their attack can still experience improvement, though usually not so dramatic. As with everything in treatment for this condition, the earlier the intervention the more successful the outcome.

Though for many acupuncture is a new treatment for stroke, both the U.N. World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health endorse acupuncture as a treatment for stroke-related disabilities.

If you are seeking acupuncture therapy for stroke rehabilitation, I strongly suggest you find one who practices the Balance Method, which is a form of acupuncture from Taiwan. Also, scalp acupuncture is very important in treating these symptoms. We are trained in three different styles of scalp acupuncture in our clinic.

One of my passions is educating the public about the effectiveness of acupuncture. There is nothing to lose in trying acupuncture and in my clinical experience so much can be gained.

New Treatment for Stroke
Acupuncture Research on Stroke Therapy
To Americans acupuncture may seem to be a new treatment for stroke, but in Asia it is quite well established.
There are hundreds of stroke studies from China and Japan, some involving large groups of patients, which show acupuncture’s efficacy in treating stroke. In fact, this is such a well-established procedure in Asia, that control groups are no longer used in acupuncture research studies on stroke patients as it is thought to be unethical to withhold acupuncture treatment from any stroke patient.

In the U.S., new stroke treatment research has demonstrated mixed results, with better designed and larger-scale studies needed.

A study carried out at the Lund University Hospital, Sweden (1) involved 78 patients with severe hemiparesis (paralysis of one side of the body) within 10 days of stroke onset. 40 patients received daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and 38 patients received acupuncture treatment twice a week for 10 weeks. Patients treated with acupuncture recovered faster and to a larger extent than the controls with significant differences in measures of balance, mobility, quality of life index, and fewer days spent at hospitals/nursing homes.

Another study published in 2004 in the official journal of the American Society of Neurorehabilitation, suggest that acupuncture provides “statistically significant” benefits in physical functioning and recovery when used as an new treatment for stroke in addition to conventional stroke rehabilitation measures. The study was conducted at the Daniel Freeman Rehabilitation Center’s inpatient stroke rehabilitation unit in Los Angeles. In the trial, 29 patients who had suffered a stroke within the previous 60 days that resulted in hemiparesis were randomized to either a control group or an acupuncture group. To ensure consistency, a standardized treatment protocol was used among all patients in the acupuncture group.

Researchers assessed aspects of physical performance in a person’s upper and lower extremities, along with a functional independence scale that evaluated a person’s ability to complete certain activities of daily living without assistance. While the average score of patients in the control group increased 8.5 points between baseline and discharge, the average score of acupuncture patients increased 11.2 points. In all, seven activities of daily living were measured on the scale, the average score of patients receiving acupuncture was between .1 and .8 points higher than control patients.

The authors noted that patients who received acupuncture as a new treatment for stroke in addition to standard rehabilitation demonstrated significantly greater improvement in tub/shower transfer mobility and a trend for greater improvement in toilet transfer mobility (2).

Research at the Shanghai Medical University in China revealed that early treatment (i.e. in the first three weeks) of acupuncture produces over 90% improvement whereas treatment commenced after three weeks gives 71% improvement rate. It is, therefore, important to seek early treatment whenever possible (3).

A Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS) was conducted to determine whether acupuncture, in conjunction with standard therapy, is a useful modality in post-stroke dysphagia. The researchers concluded that dysphagia symptoms as demonstrated on VFSS improved in patients treated with acupuncture as well as in controls. However, acupuncture patients achieved significantly greater swallowing function at the end of the study (4).

These studies, and many others, plus our clinical experience in working with stroke patients has convinced us that the best new treatment for stroke is acupuncture.

Stroke Symptoms
If you have one or more stroke symptoms, do not delay. Immediately call 911. It is better to have an unnecessary trip to the ER than to end up permanently and possibly severely disabled.
According to the National Stroke Association, these are the common symptoms seen in both men and women:

Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg -- especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Since 60% of victims of this disease are women, please read about the unique Stroke Symptoms in Women


A Simple Test for Stroke
The most effective treatments are only available within three hours of the first onset, so it is very important to identify the attack immediately and get emergency help.
Use the following procedure to help you identify the risk and act F.A.S.T.:

1. FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop down?

2. ARMS: Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

3. SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are their words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

4. TIME: If the person shows one or more of these signs, time is important. Call 911 or get the person to a hospital fast.

Signs of Stroke for a Woman
It's important to learn the unique signs of stroke for a woman, as 60% of those stricken with the disease are women. If you think you or a loved one may be having a stroke, seek immediate emergency medical treatment.
According to the National Stroke association, women may report unique symptoms:

sudden face and limb pain
sudden hiccups
sudden nausea
sudden general weakness
sudden chest pain
sudden shortness of breath
sudden palpitations

Because these signs of stroke for a woman are not usually associated with a serious medical condition women may delay treatment which can increase the likelihood of a serious lifelong disability.

It is important to recognize the signs of stroke for a woman and get treatment within three hours of onset.

Mild Stroke Symptoms
Even if you experience mild stroke symptoms, it is important to see immediate medical attention because the risk of a major stroke is very high in the 24 hours after a mild stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
The common symptoms of mild stroke can be subtle and often people ignore these signs:

Weakness in face, arm or leg on one side
Numbness in face
Inability to understand spoken language
Inability to speak
Blurred Vision
Emotional Outbursts

While many people can recover well with little lasting effect from a mild stroke, for others the effects can be devastating. So it is very important to recognize when a loved one is having a stroke.

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