Western medicine has made some advances in the treatment of strokes, including the use of Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) and intracranial angioplasty. However, these procedures are not indicated for or accessible to all stroke patients. Despite receiving tPA in the recommended window, 58% of patients still die or end up with severe disabilities.
Typical post-stroke care in the USA starts with seven days of hospital stay followed by one to two weeks of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in a rehabilitation facility. After three or more weeks of outpatient rehabilitation, the treatment comes to an end, but the patient’s recovery is far from complete.
In one study on ischemic stroke survivors who were at least 65 years of age, the following disabilities were observed six months after stroke:
- 50% had some hemiparesis
- 30% were unable to walk without some assistance
- 26% were dependent in activities of daily living
- 19% had aphasia
- 26% were institutionalized in a nursing home
Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement in standard stroke protocol.
Can acupuncture really benefit stroke patients?
Many people have asked this question. Our answer is a definite “yes”, but recent western research and meta-analyses make the claim that there is no clear evidence for the additional value of acupuncture for post-stroke rehabilitation. Why is there a discrepancy? Both statements are valid. What is more accurate is that acupuncture can significantly benefit stroke patients if it is done right, but otherwise it is of little value. Our own experience with stroke patients over the years demonstrates that when applied correctly, acupuncture can shorten recovery time to as little as two weeks and restore significant function to over 95% in some patients.
Significant experience gets the best results. Every patient has similarities but is different.