Acupuncture Benefits Stroke

Source: Health Action, Fall 2011

Acupuncture can benefit stroke patients for up to six months after stroke occurs, according to a leading Vancouver traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) rehabilitation specialist.

This comes as good news given that a recent national review of hospital records by the Canadian Stroke Network found that Canadian stroke patients aren't receiving care as quickly or as effectively as they could be.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and adult disability in Canada. The longer a delay of treatment after stroke, the greater the potential for brain damage.

According to the 2011 study, the best chance of full recovery occurs within 4.5 hours after initial stroke warning symptoms have set in. Symptoms include weakness, trouble speaking, vision problems, headache and dizziness.

Dr. Luke Lin at ImeG Health (, a TCM practitioner in Vancouver and Richmond, says that many patients who use TCM experience improvements in stroke effects very quickly.

"It depends on the severity of the stroke and the whole body condition," he says. "It is not a cure but acupuncture can be very effective."

Dr. Lin, who was a rehabilitation medical doctor in the intensive care unit in Taiwan before moving to Canada and continuing his TCM practice, says that acupuncture can promote the recovery of injured brain tissue, enhance the activities of daily living and improve the quality of life in stroke patients.

One of Dr. Lin's recent cases involved an 80-year-old male who'd suffered frequent strokes for two months and as a result couldn't move his left-side limbs properly. After receiving two acupuncture treatments, the patient's range of motion in his left shoulder improved noticeably, as did his lower limb strength.

"In TCM, we focus on blood circulation," he explains, adding that acupuncture is the most common modality used although herbs may also be prescribed. Patients usually lie down to receive acupuncture although they sometimes sit in a wheelchair too.

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