Expertise in Stroke Treatment
Prof. Ming Qing Zhu, L.Ac. has treated more stroke patients than any other acupuncturists in the world. There were times in China when he treated over 200 patients, mostly stroke, in a day. Why did stroke patients flock to him? Because of his magic needles, they said. He used his special Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture.
In 1987 at the First Conference of the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies, Prof. Zhu treated two stroke patients on the stage. In less than 10 minutes, these patients were able to stand up from the wheelchairs and walked without support. Prof. Zhu has repeatedly demonstrated his techniques worldwide ever since and has amazed every patient and audience.
Prof. Zhu and his associate, Moyee Siu, L.Ac. possess the expertise knowledge and clinical experience to treat any kind of stroke, ischemic or hemorrhagic. Whether it is a new stroke that just happened, or one that occurred years ago, they can help patients recover or improve their functions. Contrary to what most people think, acupuncture can be used in the acute stage of a stroke. In fact, it should be used as early as Day 1, even for a hemorrhagic stroke. Of course you need someone as experienced as Prof. Zhu and Dr. Moyee to know how to do it right.
This is an example of how crucial the prompt application of Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture Therapy is to the recovery of stroke – the earlier, the better. The patient had an ischemic stroke on 12/4/2010, confirmed by MRI. On the 3rd day post-stroke, he came in a wheelchair with slurred speech and right side paralysis. Improvements were apparent from the very first treatment. In 24 hours, he was able to walk on his own.
What does stroke mean?
When I say “cerebrovascular accident”, you probably do not know what I am talking about unless you are a medical professional. The layman’s term is “stroke”, or “wind stroke” in Chinese. These common terms describe more vividly the acute onset of the disease and its severe consequences. The patient is hit hard suddenly and becomes paralyzed.
The medical term “cerebrovascular accident” (CVA) tells you what has happened – there is an accident inside the brain that relates to its blood vessels. It may be a clot blocking a vessel (an ischemic stroke) or bleeding from a rupture (a hemorrhagic stroke).
Why does a stroke happen?
A plaque, which is a lump of cellular waste products, cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium and fibrin, can build up on the inner lining of blood vessels, making the vessels harder and narrower. When the plaque becomes too big, it completely blocks the flow of blood. So a person with high levels of cholesterol or triglycerides or very thick blood has an increased risk of ischemic stroke. Sometimes, a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a clot that comes from the heart. This occurs more likely with people who have heart valve problems or atrial fibrillations. Clots do not form overnight. It takes years to build up. Therefore ischemic stroke patients are mostly among older population. You see no symptoms at all until suddenly one day a blood vessel is completely blocked.
Another possibility is the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. It may be due to high blood pressure, or a traumatic injury like the head hitting an object or floor. Some people are borne with abnormalities in their cerebral vessels such as aneurysms or arterio-venous malformation (AVM). The walls of these vessels are weakened at certain spots and can burst without any warning. This type of stroke can happen on young patients, regardless of age.
An experienced doctor should be able to differentiate with fairly high accuracy the types of stroke based on the patient’s symptoms. The diagnosis is best confirmed with imaging studies such as a CT scan or MRI. Note that CT scan does not show new clots in the first 48 hours of a stroke, but MRI can.
Sometimes a stroke causes facial paralysis and deviation that looks very much like Bell’s Palsy. Again, an experienced doctor should be able to tell in a matter of minutes. Correct diagnosis is crucial because it leads to very different prognosis. Don’t let the wrong hands delay your treatment.
What happens after a stroke?
Our brain is the body’s control center. The trillions of brain cells need blood supply for oxygen and nutrients. When a stroke occurs, blood supply is interrupted at the lesions. After 4 minutes or more without oxygen, brain cells become damaged and may die. Consequently the body parts controlled by those cells cannot function. For instance, a patient may feel numb (loss of sensory function) and cannot move his arm (loss of motor function).
For a hemorrhagic stroke, things are often worse. The blood that leaks out of the vessel take up space in the brain, compressing on surrounding tissues. Damages are therefore more extensive. Many hemorrhagic stroke patients suffer from an excruciating headache or lose consciousness (in coma). If bleeding is massive, the brain may even be shifted to one side or pushed downward through the foramen of the skull. The latter case is fatal.
As the cells die, edema is formed, thus causing more damages. So, symptoms continue to deteriorate for a few days before they stabilize. The peak is around Day 4 or 5.
The loss of function from a stroke may be mild or severe, and temporary or permanent. This depends on where and how much the brain is damaged and how fast the blood supply can be returned to the affected cells.
Stroke affects 700,000 people annually in the US. It is the third leading cause of death and the NUMBER 1 cause of long-term adult disability.
Conventional Treatments for Stroke
Stroke is an emergency that requires immediate medical care. Patients are usually hospitalized for monitoring of vital signs and life support. Once symptoms are stabilized, patients will be discharged. As the brain starts to heal, some functions will return slowly but only to a limited extent. In order to recover more, rehabilitation therapy is needed.
Hemorrhagic stroke patients may require a surgery to drain the blood that has accumulated, to relieve the compression in the brain. Ischemic stroke patients are often given warfarin (also known by brand name coumadin). Warfarin is an anti-coagulant, a blood thinner. It prevents formation of new clots but it does nothing about clots that have already formed. In other words, it does not help stroke patients recover. Overdosage of warfarin or coumadin can cause internal bleeding. This side-effect is not surprising for it was originally developed as a potent rodent poison.
In 1996, FDA approved the use of a new drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, to treat ischemic stroke because it can dissolve clots. However the use of tPA has been very limited. First, it must be administered within 3 hours from the first signs of a stroke; second, only well trained medical personnel at approved stroke centers provide this service; third, tPA is contraindicated for certain conditions. For instance, patient with a recent history of bleeding, or with seizures or very high blood pressures cannot receive tPA. Finally, tPA increases the risk of bleeding. There are reports of death or secondary hemorrhagic stroke caused by tPA.
Does Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture benefits a stroke patient?
Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture is very beneficial to stroke patients. The earlier the intervention, the better are the results. Our therapy helps in several ways:
- It prevents or reduces edema in the brain, thereby stops further damage to brain tissues.
- It promotes perfusion in the brain, restoring blood and oxygen to brain cells and save them from dying.
- It helps to break down blood clots.
- Our approach accelerates functional recovery.
Although the actual mechanism of scalp acupuncture is not fully understood, the above statements are based on our own experience and substantiated by countless clinical cases. We will continue to share these cases on our website. The treatment of stroke and its rehabilitation is a specialty that demands certain skills and knowledge. If you need a heart surgery, you go to a cardiology surgeon and not a general practitioner. Likewise, when you need help with stroke, come to us, the only acupuncture clinic that has 40+ years of expertise on strokes. We treat strokes in any phase, acute or chronic.
The controversy of whether acupuncture has any value to the recovery of stroke has been going on for years. Our answer is so obvious and our evidence so strong that we are eager to share what contribute to our positive results. To this end, we have written an article “Can Acupuncture Really Benefit Stroke Recovery”. Instead of submitting it to a medical journal, we decide to publish it on the Internet so that it is accessible worldwide and free of charge to anyone interested. To read the full article, click here. Pass it on, for doing so will help many stroke victims to raise their awareness on how to get maximum benefits from acupuncture treatments.