Acupuncture in Stroke rehabilitation
Stroke recovery acupuncture is an area of particular interest to me since I first witnessed it in the numerous hospitals I did internships in during my studies in China. Acupuncture is used in conjunction with other medical techniques to treat the likes of hemiplegia and pain as a result of stroke. Acupuncture treatments usually begin within the first week of suffering stroke in China. The results achieved are incredible and often leads to almost complete recovery even after suffering with paralysis. Acupuncture treatment can work out much more cost effective as well as having a high success rate with rehabilitation from stroke. Unfortunately in Ireland acupuncture is not offered or recommended by hospitals as far as I am aware. This article details my treatment of a lovely lady called Lily who unfortunately suffered a stroke almost 8 months ago and has only received or being offered minimal rehabilitative therapies during her eight-month stay in hospital. If you would like to read about my treatment of stroke patients in China please see my article stroke rehabilitation acupuncture.
Currently I am working with Lily in her 70s who suffered a severe stroke almost 8 months ago. I am treating Lily in her hospital bed since her daughter asked me to come and do acupuncture 5 1/2 months after Lily suffered from a stroke. When I first met Lily her right arm and right leg were bent-up so rigidly and tight that they could not be moved without causing her intense pain, for this reason the hospital decided to stop any physiotherapy after only a couple of sessions. Lily’s jaw was stiff and she could barely open her mouth when I first met her, she is fed through a tube in her stomach. Lily’s speech was very confused and she only had a few words. It was apparent that she could understand what was going on but she was incapable of vocalising what she was thinking. In spite of this Lily maintains an upbeat attitude and always welcomes me with a smile.
I have been limited in the techniques that I can use for a number of reasons including the fact that I am attending her in secret as the Doctors have declared that she is not “rehabilitatable”, for this reason I cannot use techniques such as electro – acupuncture. Because Lily is being fed through a peg in her stomach I cannot use abdominal acupuncture. She also had a large melanoma on her upper chest and shoulder on the affected side. For these reasons I have been using Scalp, auricular, traditional Chinese, Master Tung and Dr Tan acupuncture systems. Lily’s progress started off slow but consistent, I was reluctant to use acupuncture points near the cancer initially but after about six weeks of treatment the melanoma had completely disappeared (Lily was also on anti-cancer treatments since arriving in hospital). Gradually the arm was becoming softer and loosening and when the hospital decided to use Botox the doctors were surprised that they did not need to use Botox on the arm as it was much looser than they expected. Since Christmas we decided to step things up with the treatment and I have been using Dr Tan’s balancing technique to treat both limbs and strengthen her, I used scalp acupuncture to improve Lily’s speech.
Lily with the Lotus flower hand
After only three short weeks of dedicated acupuncture (1 session every 5 days) to release Lily’s locked claw like hand the joy and amazement we experienced when Lily opened her hand like a Lotus flower for the first time in over seven months. Both Lily’s daughter and I looked at each other in amazement while Lily looked at us with a smug nonchalant gaze. Lily’s right arm is now comfortable in a straight position and she has even shocked us by lifting her arm off the bed. Her hand is much looser and opens on occasions. The staff in the hospital have commented on her improvement but unfortunately we have to remain silent about the acupuncture treatment for fear of the Doctors threatening to ban acupuncture. Lily’s leg is also improving and is more flexible, as is her jaw, on occasion she has managed to eat almost all of a regular dinner (a pleasant change from the drip even if it is hospital food!). Lily’s speech is also becoming more coherent and on occasions she has even come out with sentences on one occasion she called me “a chancer” and on another occasion when asked how she felt she said ” great, thanks be to Jesus”.
Lily is very lucky to have such a dedicated and determined family who are not prepared to sit by and allow one particular consultant write off any chance of the slightest recovery for Lily. It is a shame that there is not an integration of different therapies in order to get the best possible results for those who have suffered from stroke in Ireland. I will continue to see Lily two or three times per week with the hope that she will regain some more use of her arm and leg, and improve her general quality of life. I hope that one day we can be open about treating Lily with acupuncture and possibly even get some encouragement and support from the hospital.
Stroke recovery acupuncture is of special interest to me and I will strive to make it more accessible to those in need. Ideally patients should be seen as soon as possible but results can be impressive even after six or eight months results become less impressive if patients are only seen after a year or 2.
If you would like to discuss stroke recovery with me please feel free to contact me at [email protected]