Stroke Rehabilitation and Chinese Medicine
Stokes impart a heavy burden on families and society as stroke recovery can be long, costly, and often unsuccessful as strokes are the leading cause of disability in the US. Equally disturbing, the age of stoke victims is becoming lower each year with 10% being under the age of 45 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31647003/). Stroke recovery is especially hard on loved ones as they feel helpless to aid in the recovery of stroke. Recent studies have indicated that acupressure used with essential oils can help to speed healing and result in a better outcome for stroke patients; this can be an empowering method of home care and ischemic stroke rehabilitation.
Stroke Recovery Acupressure Massage
Developing a new skill always takes time, but after you apply the essential oils to these points a few times you will be a pro! Like any type of stroke rehabilitation therapy, it is best to begin this massage as soon after the stroke as possible. The acu-sticks would be applied twice per day and firm pressure with a clockwise kneading of each point can be performed for one minute per acu-point. Many of the points close in proximity and once you get the routine down it should only take 20 minutes or so to perform the massage. If you don't have time twice per day to manipulate the points, simply take a few minutes and apply the acu-sticks; the essential oils will activate the points and initiate the healing potential of the acupuncture point.
Any massage helps to prevent hyper-tone and rigidity in muscles following a stroke that can result in pain. However, using acupressure points as part of a massage has benefits that surpass massage alone. These acupressure points specifically move Blood and increase circulation while treating the underlying causes and complications of stroke. Studies have shown that aromatherapy acupressure massage combined with foot (and hand) baths are especially beneficial.
- Apply the Fire Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Pericardium 6
- Apply the Fire Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Pericardium 7
- Apply the Fire Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Heart 7
- Apply the Earth Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Stomach 36
- Apply the Earth Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Spleen 6
- Apply the Earth Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Spleen 10
- Apply the Water Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Kidney 3
- Apply the Water Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Bladder 62
- Apply the Water Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Bladder 40
- Apply the Metal Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Large Intestine 4
- Apply the Wood Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Liver 3
- Apply the Wood Element Acupressure Stick to Acupressure Point Gallbladder 41
Patterns of Imbalance that Combine to Cause Strokes
The underlying causes of stroke must be addressed for best outcomes as there is a 44% of a recurrence of stroke in survivors. In Chinese medicine, stroke is considered a complicated chronic condition; while one may have just suffered a stroke, it took many years for the root imbalances to develop in the body that led up to the stroke in almost all cases. It is most likely that all of these conditions are involved with an ischemic stroke:
- Liver Qi Stagnation
- Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness
- Kidney Yin Deficiency
- Internal Wind
- Blood Stagnation
Chinese Medicine and Stroke Recovery in China
Chinese medicine, herbs and XNKQ acupuncture are the go-to therapies in China following a stroke. Shi Xuemin, MD has been performing clinical application and research on XNKQ acupuncture at the National Acupuncture Clinical Research Center of China Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Since 1972. He I proposed the therapeutic principle of “Xing Nao Kai Qiao” (XNKQ-awakening brain and opening orifices) and this acupuncture method has been widely applied to more than two million patients. In addition, a series of in-depth systematic researches in the diagnosis, treatment and mechanism of stroke have been carried out, forming a system featuring acupuncture for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke . XNKQ acupuncture therapy was formulated on the fundamental parthenogenesis of stroke, which is due to obstruction of brain orifices and hiding of vitality resulting from upward invasion of blood stasis, liver wind and phlegm. Mainly points on Yin meridians and the Du meridian are selected and quantitative manipulations are applied.
This approach is quite different from traditional point selection and acupuncture manipulations in treatment of stroke such as scalp acupuncture. Stroke is understood in Chinese medicine to be due to obstruction of brain orifices and hiding of vitality resulting from upward invasion of blood stasis, liver wind and phlegm. The main theory in Chinese medicine traditionally was stroke caused by internal wind; later came the theory of Spleen Dampness combining with Wind-Heat to create blockages of phlegm in channels causes paralysis. Blockages of the Heart by Damp Heat causes unconsciousness. Also Kidney Deficiency and Liver over activity play a significant role in the causes of strokes according to Chinese medicine.
In China, acupuncture and herbal therapy are the main treatments of strokes. When necessary, Chinese medicine is supplemented with western medications to reduce intracranial pressure, to fight infections, or to lower blood pressure as well as supportive treatment according to the patients’ conditions. Physical therapy, Tuina medical massage, and other therapies are performed on patients all done in a 600-bed facility dedicated specifically to stroke patients. Because of the extension research done in China regarding stroke rehabilitation, they have found that acupuncture, herbs, and physical therapies are the most cost effective way to address stroke and lead to the best outcomes; this is vital in a country with socialized medicine.
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Dr. Browne's Shared Insights and Experiences
A woman pushed a middle-aged man in a wheelchair to the front of the classroom at my doctoral program; she gently reassured the patient-to-be as she removed his socks and shoes and helped him up to the treatment table making me think this was his life-partner. Upon finishing, she came and sat down next to my table while the other students rushed to set up their laptops. Commuting from North Carolina to California had only one advantage: I was running on EST three hours ahead of everyone else's schedule: this granted me a seat at the front of the classroom as I could easily arrive early. Good thing, the room was filled to capacity as we all anticipated the world's leading authority on Stroke Rehabilitation and Chinese medicine, Dr. Shi, to perform the methods he had described the days before.
When Dr. Shi arrived and the crowd quieted down, he asked the woman specifics about the man's condition. She explained that he suffered the stroke 18 months prior with only minor improvements with western interventions. Dr. Shi addressed the class and explained that acupuncture would not be as effective this long after the occurrence of the stroke, and that it was most appropriate within the first six months of recovery. He did not need to state this to the students as we were all in our fifth or sixth year of Oriental medical school with many years of experience treating stroke patients; the comment was really for the benefit of the patient and his partner to provide realistic expectation.
He began by asking the patient to count from 1-6. The patient did as instructed and was mostly inaudible. He then asked the patient to lift his arm, which he was able to lift to the height of around six inches with a great deal of strain. Dr. Shi then asked that he lift his affected leg, with similar results as the arm. He explained each of his methods as an entrepreneur hurried to translate his invaluable information into English. I, along with the other students, could barely keep up with note taking as there were so many rich insights being revealed. Finishing the treatment, he once again asked the patient to count from 1-6; the numbers were clearly understandable and I was shocked. He then asked the patient to lift is leg and arm and they came 2 feet off of the table. The man's partner was weeping, and I realized there were tears running down my face too; it was moving.
There were many more patients and stunning moments that weekend. Dr. Shi was an excellent teacher and was genuinely determined to teaching as many of us to perform this valuable healing method as possible. He patiently explained over and over its' importance in easing suffering in the world. He also convincingly demonstrated the effectiveness of this treatment on eager patients who lined up out the classroom door the following days.