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Stroke is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): “rapidly developing clinical signs of focal (or global) disturbance of cerebral function, with symptoms lasting 24 h or longer or leading to death, with no apparent cause other than of vascular origin”. Stroke can be caused by ischemia or hemorrhage. Thrombosis, embolus and hemorrhage are causations of the damage to the Brain tissue, which lead to hemiplegia or some form of hemiparesis. Prognosis depends on the extensiveness of the stroke, type of stroke and the patient’s general health condition. The prognosis is depended on how quickly a patient is able to get treatment after the onset.

It is an acute focal injury of the central nervous system (CNS) arising from a vascular cause such as cerebral infarction, intracerebral hemorrhage, or subarachnoid hemorrhage.  

The symptoms caused by stroke, such as hemiplegia, cognitive disorder, aphasia, and dysphagia, greatly affect the ability of patients to perform activities of daily living as well as social participation, imposing a great burden on families and communities.

The commonly seen symptoms or sequel of stroke can be divided by two main categories, physical symptoms and mental problems. Most of these symptoms could be improved with time and particularly with rehabilitations.

Acupuncture is one of the effective and valuable methods for stroke rehabilitation helping with:

Physical Symptoms: paralysis mostly on one side (hemiplegia), weakness, balance or coordination problems, pain, numbness, burning or tingling sensations, fatigue, urinary or bowel incontinence, constipation, aphasia, unclear speech, or difficulty understanding speech, reading or writing, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), visual problem, double vision, partial blindness.

The number of acupuncture sessions needed to full recovery depend on the number of symptoms (more symptomatology, more sessions required) and the severity of the symptoms. 

Poor memory, difficulty making decision or poor concentration, post stroke depression or anxiety also are treatable but herbal medicine is combined with acupuncture.

In Chinese Medicine, the aetiology is complex, could be summarized as internal deficiency as the root with added external Wind, Cold, Summer wet, Dryness and Fire as the branches. Overexertion, deficiency after disease or injury, weakness due to aging, imbalance of yin and yang, emotional distress or too much alcohol, et al. are commonly recognized reasons.  

For those who are acupuncturists, stroke can be divided into internal Zangfu degree and Channel degree, or mild and severe degree. The mild or channel degree stroke affects the meridians and are related to symptoms such as hemiplegia, numbness, deviation of eyes and mouth, difficulty of speech.  

Clinical trial and meta-analysis findings have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture in improving balance function, reducing spasticity, and increasing muscle strength and general well-being post-stroke, although the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of acupuncture in stroke rehabilitation remain unclear. More studies are necessary.

According to the TCM theory about stroke classifications, the principle of general acupuncture treatment would be followed by the pattern identification. With the development of TCM Brain theory, more clinical practice and researches focus on the Brain related acupuncture techniques such as scalp acupuncture and Du Mai Dao-qi technique. These special techniques can be used alone or combined with traditional acupuncture as well.  

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