September 24, 2017
Stroke is a very common & debilitating health issue with one stroke occurring every minute. In fact, stroke is one of Australia’s leading causes of fatality & disability. Post-stroke active rehabilitation, including therapies such as scalp acupuncture, may assist greatly in recovery from stroke, allowing patients to regain function & mobility.
What is Stroke?
A stroke occurs from of an acute lack of blood supply to the brain, caused by either a blockage (ischaemic) or rupture of blood vessels (haemorrhagic). The blood supplies the brain with essential oxygen & nutrients, it’s when this supply is interrupted that the brains cells become starved & stroke occurs. Stroke onset is immediate and can occur to anyone at any age. The region of the brain which becomes effected determines the specific set of symptoms which can persist post-stroke including limited mobility, memory loss & speech impairment.
Types of Stroke
- Ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke which can occur. In fact, upwards of 90% of all strokes are of this variety. An ischaemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted as a result of a blood clot or plaque build-up that restricted blood flow to the brain.
An ischaemic stroke can also be either embolic (clot that forms & travels) or thrombotic (clot that forms but doesn’t travel i.e. atherosclerosis)
- Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood vessels in the brain rupture & leak, spilling blood into the brain, causing damage to nearby neurons & brain tissue. This type of stroke is much less common but much more severe.
Most people are familiar with the term aneurysm, this is in fact a type of haemorrhagic stroke and occurs when sections of the blood vessel walls begin to bulge, fill with blood & eventually rupture.
- Transient Ischemic Attacks, otherwise known as “mini strokes”, occur when there is partial or temporary restriction of blood flow to the brain, rather than complete blockage. This type of stroke may occur prior to a more severe attack, therefore even if symptoms subside medical attention should be sought immediately.
There are a number of well-known risk factors associated with stroke, some of which may be managed through regular acupuncture treatment, dietary changes & regular exercise. These include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arties)
- Cigarette & alcohol consumption
- Poor diet & exercise
- Chronic stress
Goal of Treatment
The goal of any treatment, medical or alternative, is to improve the patient’s quality of life & help them regain normal function & mobility. Assisting patients with management of emotional stress throughout the recovery process is also of great priority. With any treatment no results are guaranteed as recovery from stroke is always case-by-case dependent, no one recovery will be the same.
What is Scalp Acupuncture?
Scalp acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, dating back to ancient China. In modern acupuncture today it is one the most common treatments used for post-stroke recovery and as the name suggests, involves inserting acupuncture needles into acupoints in the scalp. In fact, scalp acupuncture rather than regular body treatment appears to be much more effective at treating neurological conditions including stroke.
How can it assist stroke recovery?
Scalp acupuncture can be an effective way to improve neurological symptoms, including difficulty speaking/writing/reading, memory loss & reduction of motor skills, which can occur post-stroke.
The acupuncture needle insertion sites, being much closer to the affected areas of the brain, are believed to encourage the brains neuroplasticity by stimulating the cerebral cortex (region of the brain responsible for memory, perception, learning, cognition, awareness, language & motor function) (1). The needles are often stimulated slightly by the acupuncturist (this cannot be felt by the patient) and often left in for a number of hours afterwards.
Research (2) has suggested that scalp acupuncture may be effective due to the influence it has on the following factors:
- reducing brain odema (swelling)
- promote repair of blood brain barrier to prevent further damage occurring from unwanted molecules crossing this essential barrier.
- reducing chronic inflammation to allow for brain tissue repair
- improving neuron function & communication allowing for faster recovery & return of normal functionality.
One of the most important factors of treatment is TIME. The sooner treatment begins the better the outcome. However, this is not always the case, positive results may still be seen if treatment begins beyond the ‘3-6 month’ recommended recovery window. Even years later treatment may still be effective. It’s never too late to consider treatment.
Remember Prevention is just as important!
Acupuncture may be successfully used, in conjunction with a healthy diet & exercise regime to prevent stroke, as it may assist in encouraging healthy blood flow & microcirculation within the brain. This may be especially helpful if a strong family history or a number of risk factors, including hypertension, high cholesterol & chronic stress are also present.
The owner of this site is not liable for any misfortune that should befall a visitor to this site. This site does not offer personal advice & no information on it can be construed as personal advice. In the event that you may feel our therapies may be of benefit, we advise you to contact the clinic to make an appointment for diagnosis and treatment.
- Neuroplasticity Changes on Human Motor Cortex Induced by Acupuncture Therapy: A Preliminary Study https://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2017/4716792/
- History and Mechanism for Treatment of Intracerebral Hemorrhage with Scalp Acupuncture https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/895032/