Stroke Sequelae

What is Stroke Sequelae?

Stroke is a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.

There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for 13 percent of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths.

In the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death, killing about 137,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability- Stroke Sequelae.

Stroke sequelae includes symptoms like hemiplegia, numbness, aphasia, swallowing difficulties, facial distortion such as crooked mouth and depression. However, people who receive good rehabilitation after a stroke can make an effective recovery, sometimes regaining almost all the function lost during the stroke.

Western Medical Treatment for Stroke Sequelae

In western medicine, when people suffer stroke sequelae, rehabilitation-physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy should be started as soon as possible. And patients may be given the patients anti-coagulant medications to prevent clot formation, anti-hypertensive medication to control the blood pressure, cholesterol-lowering medication to reduce their blood cholesterol level, glucose lowering medications or insulin injections to make the blood sugar level down. And they will be advised to stop smoking, put on a calorie-controlled diet and get a moderate exercise program.

Acupuncture Treatment for Stroke Sequelae

Acupuncture therapy for stroke sequelae has been commonly used in China for thousands of years. Chinese medicine practitioners use unique selection of acupuncture points in head and body region, open up blocked meridians, significantly increase the capability of stroke patients to handle daily living activities, as well as significantly improve their motor function and cognitive function.

Chinese medicine practitioners believe that acupuncture has the function of dispelling the wind evils, eliminating phlegm, enriching the blood and removing obstruction in the meridian channels. In other words, acupuncture treatment can improve blood circulation, repair blood vessels, help the absorption of brain edema, and promote the restore of the normal functions from hemiplegia, aphasia, crooked mouth, swallowing difficulties, numbness and other symptoms as soon as possible.

Many clinical and experimental results show that acupuncture treatment, which can reduce brain edema and infarct volume, has protective effects on neurons. Acupuncture can inhibit ischemic neuronal apoptosis, increased ischemic brain derived neurotrophic factor synthesis or release. And many studies indicate that acupuncture treatment can help patients get well faster, perform better in self-care, require less nursing and rehabilitation therapy, and use less healthcare dollars.

Applying the methods of early intervention and making the acupuncture treatment started at the best time for the stroke patients can prevent the disease continue to develop, reduce disability and improve the life quality, so that patients can return to the family and society for normal life.

The best time to start acupuncture treatment for stroke rehabilitation is determined by the type of the stroke. Because acupuncture opens blood vessels for better flow and decreases clotting and inflammation, and these effects are desired early when arteries are blocked, it is better to start acupuncture therapy as soon as possible after an ischemic stroke. However, because of the same reason, a hemorrhagic stroke demands a delay of about 2 weeks before acupuncture treatment. It is safer to wait until the bleeding blood vessel has clotted and is unlikely to bleed further before providing the acupuncture.

As far as the disease developing process of stroke is concerned, the first month of stroke is the acute phase, and the 2nd-6th month is the convalescent phase, and after the 6th month, it becomes the sequelae stage. Generally acupuncture is more efficacious in acute and convalescent phase acupuncture is more efficacious. Therefore, it is better to receive acupuncture treatment in the early stage to increase the cure rate.

The general course of acupuncture treatment for stroke sequelae is 2-4 weeks or longer, and daily-to-3 times-weekly treatment is needed. Then rest 3-7 days in between the courses, and the total acupuncture treatment requires 1-6 months or longer according to the severity.

Obviously, adding acupuncture to rehabilitation therapy increases the cost. However, concern for added cost would perhaps disappear if the end result demonstrates more self-care and less dependence on family and health providers.

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