If you or someone you know has ever experienced the effects of a stroke, you probably understand how devastating this event can be. Stroke obstructs blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Stroke can cause damage to brain cells and nerves. Depending on which part of the brain is damaged, many things can transpire. An individual’s ability to speak, see, swallow, or move can be affected. Fortunately, there is hope. Acupuncture therapy is a safe and effective strategy for regaining motor function and decreasing dependence on long term care. Let’s take a few minutes today to talk about how it works.

You may not realize this, but stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the US and the fifth leading cause of death. Three things can help improve outcomes: first prevention, second recognizing the early signs of a stroke and seeking emergency assistance and third, integrating acupuncture therapy to jumpstart post-stroke recovery.

Prevention

The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. Lifestyle changes help with this. Eating a diet low in saturated fats and sugars, managing your weight, avoiding tobacco, alcohol, managing stress, getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night and exercising regularly are all examples.

Recognizing the Signs

Recognizing the early indications of a stroke is also a critical factor in increasing the chances of a full recovery. The sooner a stroke victim identified and treated by emergency medicine, the less severe the damage to the brain cells. This improves the odds of making a full recovery. Early signs of stroke include:

“A feeling of numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg (You might notice it on one side more than the other), vision problems in one or both eyes, dizziness or loss of balance; difficulty walking, confusion, problems speaking or understanding what other people are saying, severe headaches without warning or explanation” (Warning Signs of a Stroke).

About Acupuncture & Stroke

Integrating acupuncture therapy soon after a stroke has also been shown to be a highly effective strategy of improving outcomes. Acupuncture works to improve blood circulation, stimulating motor function and speeding up stroke recovery.  Acupuncture is often applied along with plant extracts to speed these goals further.

The Research

Studies involving thousands of patients published in China, Japan, and Scandinavia show how acupuncture can be a useful tool when applied along with other rehabilitation therapies. This research indicates that patients get better faster, require less nursing and rehabilitation therapy, and use fewer healthcare dollars.

According to the 2010 China connection global health report, stroke patients receiving post-stroke care with acupuncture, herbal medicine along with modern medicine, have better outcomes than patients treated with standard post-stroke treatments in the US. This report states that in Chinese hospitals where acupuncture is started within 2 days after the stroke, 85% of patients can walk without assistance compared to 50% in the US. This report further explains that 98% of stroke patients who go through the rehabilitation program in China return to live in their own home rather than long term care. In the US the percentage of stroke patients who can function without assistance is more like 68%.

Acupuncture is an added expense in the stroke recovery process. However, considering its effectiveness in speeding up recovery, regaining motor functions, decreasing dependence on long term care and getting patients back to a level of functionality to rejoin the workforce, it is an option worthy of consideration for all stroke patients.

Reference Data:

How to Detect the Early Warning Signs of a Stroke – Saebo. https://www.saebo.com/detect-early-warning-signs-stroke/

Warning Signs of Stroke – SecondsCount.org. http://www.secondscount.org/heart-condition-centers/info-detail-2/warning-signs-of-stroke

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