Did you know that acupuncture can be used for stroke recovery?
8 Mar 2019
Author: Chien-Hung (Frank) Yeh, PhD, R.Ac – Guelph, ON
Acupuncture has some amazing benefits for stroke recovery. In this article, you will learn about acupuncture and its therapeutic effects on dysphagia, shoulder pain, and motor movement. In addition, you will also learn about some of the acupuncture points that are beneficial and easy to perform acupressure at home.
What is acupuncture for stroke recovery?
Acupuncture has been practiced in China to treat a wide range of conditions, including stroke, for more than 2500 years. During your initial consultation, a practitioner will thoroughly assess your condition, most commonly using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. After that, practitioner will insert hair-thin, disposable sterile needles into the skin at strategic points, sometimes the needles are connected with electrical stimulation after insertion, to activate the muscles and nerves, thereby promote recovery after stroke.
In China, patients after stroke often receive acupuncture as their primary treatment with the prescription of a few exercises to do on their own. However, acupuncture can be more effective when combined with modern approaches such as rehabilitation.
The way that our brain recover from stroke is through neuroplasticity, which is activated by repetitive practice and stimulation to re-wire our brain facilitate healing. Neuroplasticity is activated to its maximum capacity when repetitive practice is combined with external stimulus. Electro-acupuncture provides effective stimulation to the muscles and nerves, which gives an extra boost to the re-wiring process of the brain.
The Ottawa Panel recommends the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to standard stroke rehabilitation to improve walking mobility. Systematic reviews have shown that acupuncture may be an effective adjunct to reduce hemiplegic shoulder pain, improve dysphagia, and increase walking speed. Therefore, a guideline published by the American Heart Association/America stroke Association suggests that acupuncture may be considered for the above symptoms. Some clinical trials have shown that acupuncture might also be able to enhance balance, reduce spasticity, and increase muscle strength. However, future large scale, high quality study is required to make a stronger recommendation for the use of acupuncture.
What should you do?
Everyone responds to acupuncture differently, some may feel that acupuncture is a great addition to their existing treatments, but others might have limited effect. However, acupuncture is a well-established practice that is safe and comes with few adverse effects. Therefore, there is basically no harm to receive acupuncture, and you won’t know how it will affect you until you try!
Acupressure self-care at home
We are going to show you two acupuncture points that you can perform acupressure at home.
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