Post-stroke acupuncture is a specialized branch of Chinese medicine. It is a blend of neurology and classical acupuncture. This therapy is acupuncture stimulation near the stroke damage. Most patients have had an MRI, C-scan or Qeeg performed so the area of stroke has usually been identified. If not, then a thorough neurological exam will identify the area of injury. I find it very interesting that in China, acupuncture is the standard of care for post stroke patients and about 90 percent of its hospital patients receiving acupuncture are stroke survivors. The treatment is called scalp acupuncture. Needles are inserted into the scalp and with it there may be a sensation of pulling, tightness and even slight pain. After the insertion of the needles there may a heat-type sensation, tingling, and even a spasm in the impaired area of the body. The treatments can still be effective without these sensations. Neurologically speaking we are stimulating the blood flow to the motor cortex region of the brain. The Chinese experience over the last thirty years demonstrates that these acupuncture treatments re-establish the sensory and motor abilities significantly sooner than conventional physical therapy modalities. The Chinese hospital records show measurable benefit in over 90 percent of the reviewed. There is no uniform recovery pattern as each patient is different in their response to acupuncture.
In China the average stroke patient with hemiplegia will receive between thirty and forty treatments and will continue as long as there is improvement. In the USA, most patients will receive treatments once or twice per week. The number of treatments are gauged towards the tolerance of the patient. Stroke patients are frequently in a weakened state, and they can not tolerate heavy stimulation.
For best results the acupuncture should be started as soon as the patient is stabilized. Research has shown that substantial gains can be made at any stage of recovery. The recovery is a growth process that is all natural: no drugs, no surgery and best of all no side effects. Post stroke acupuncture treatments help thousands of people everyday in China. Here in Australia , the National Institute of Health concluded that acupuncture benefits stroke recovery. Many health care providers recognize the value of adding acupuncture along with conventional therapy.