Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

Post-Stroke Rehabilitation
Effective with Traditional Chinese Medicine

The National Stroke Association reports that there are nearly 4 million people in the United States who have survived a stroke and are living with the after-effects. These numbers do not reflect the scope of the problem and do not count the millions of husbands, wives and children who live with and care for stroke survivors and who are, because of their own altered lifestyle, greatly affected by stroke.

A stroke, or cerebral vascular accident (CVA), occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery, or when a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When a patient survives a stroke, all but a small percentage of them suffer from limitations in functional activities and subsequently do not become self-sufficient. In the United States, post-stroke patients normally receive physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy for their rehabilitation.

Based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, stroke is caused by an imbalance of Yin and Yang of the inner organs and an imbalance of qi (vital energy) and blood. Synopsis of the Golden Chamber, a classic Chinese Medicine journal written by Zhang Zhongjing, a famous TCM doctor in the Eastern Han Dynasty (300 A.D.), first described the symptoms and treatment method for post-stroke syndrome. During the past 2,500 years, many studies on post-stroke have been conducted to continuously improve rehabilitation.

Recovery success

The most useful of these studies show that TCM therapy, such as acupuncture and moxibustion, herbs, Tuina Anmo (Chinese Massage) and Qigong (energy healing), increased recovery success.

Let me describe these therapies and present some of the study results:

Acupuncture and Moxibustion Therapy:  In acupuncture, the TCM physician or acupuncturist inserts one or more fine needles into the patient’s body to adjust the energy flow. Thus, the treatment plan is accomplished according to the patient’s syndrome. Acupuncture points are like traffic lights on the city street. The TCM physician or acupuncturist utilizes the needles just like traffic lights to control traffic flow. Moxibustion prevents and treats disease by applying heat to points or certain locations on the body. For centuries, moxibustion and acupuncture have been combined in clinic practice, thus they are usually termed together in Chinese Medicine.

A study conducted by Chen YM,. Et al, shows that for 108 cases of hemiplegia caused by stroke, early treatment (first three weeks) with acupuncture produces better results, 90.9 percent, than the treatment initiated three weeks after stroke, 71.4 percent.

Herbal Therapy:  In ancient China, TCM medical experts tasted and tried all the herbs on themselves before prescribing them to their patients. Raw herbs are usually in the form of bark, leaves, seeds or roots. Today hundreds of different herb formulas are used to treat different diseases. Several commonly used herbal formulas are manufactured based on Chinese Herb Medicine Classics, formulas which have been used for hundreds of years in China.

A study conducted by Lin Faching, et al, Department of Neurology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai, China, reported that when herb formulas were used in treatment of a sample of 78 cases for which clinical signs were evaluated, 97 percent reported an improvement in some symptoms, No obvious side effects were noted as a result of treatment when using the herbs.

Tuina Anmo (Chinese Massage) Therapy:  This is the Chinese term for bone setting, muscle and joint manipulation and massage. Tuina Anmo is used in all areas of trauma, internal medicine, surgery, gynecology and pediatrics. An article written by Li Yangao, et al, The Bethune International Peace Hospital, China, mentioned that 44 patients suffered from hemiplegia due to stroke. The average patient age was 54. The disease course lasted from one month to three years, with an average of 105 days. Each patient was treated by Tuina Anmo therapy from 10 to 60 times, with an average of 24 times. The results were: 18 out of 44 cases improved obviously, 18 improved, 8 cases failed and the overall effective rate was 81.82 percent.

Qigong Therapy:  Qigong is a method to exercise the body’s vital energy. It combines body movement, breath exercise and mind concentration. Qigong uses body movement to conduct the Qi to the place in which the mind is concentrated. At the same time, different breath techniques are applied depending on the exercise purpose. The Fourth World Conference on Medical Qigong reported in their 1998 publication that of 147 cases of hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) due to cerebrovascular accident that were treated by Qigong, a total effective rate of 93 percent during the 12-week treatment period was observed.

Integrated therapy using Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine: Integrated therapy combines the best of Chinese treatments with conventional Western care. Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy, herbal therapy, Tuina Anmo therapy, qigong therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech training are all used as appropriate to patient needs.

Wang Shaoqin, et al, Beijing Rehabilitation Hospital, China, conducted a study on 100 cases of post-stroke patients treated by an integrated therapy of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine. After three months of treatment, the total effective rate was 83 percent. For post-cerebral hemorrhage cases, the total effective rate was 89 percent. The overall effective rate of 67 cases under age 60 was 91 percent, of over age 60 was 67 percent. The total effective rate of 50 cases whose treatment started later than six months was 72 percent.

These are only a few of the studies conducted on post-stroke rehabilitation. The results are exciting and I am happy to share them with the public.

Dr. Qizhi Gao is the President and Founder of the Kansas College of Chinese Medicine and The Evergreen Wellness Center, A Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, both located in Wichita, Kansas. EWC offers a complete integrated therapy program for post-stroke patients utilizing the Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine techniques noted above. For further information, call (316) 691-8811 or Toll-free (888) 481-5226.

Copyright 1999 Qizhi Gao

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