900 NW 8th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
Faith McCarthy, AP, RN
Bethany Bechtel, AP, PhD

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures).

In recent years highly effective acupuncture protocols have been developed for the treatment of stroke patients. Time is of the essence. The sooner the patient begins to receive acupuncture, the more quickly and the more fully will the disabling effects of stroke be reversed. Acupuncture for stroke is a safe, non-pharmaceutical treatment and as such can be applied at the same time as other medical modalities are in use.

Bethany Bechtel, AP, PhD, is receiving training under the direct guidance of Kathleen Leavy, AP, for the scalp acupuncture technique developed by Dr Jiao Shun-fa and Dr. Lin Xue-jian. Leavy studied directly with Dr. Lin (1921-2011) who contributed extensively to the development of scalp acupuncture during her long and productive life. She was the first to introduce and clinically apply the silent areas of the cerebrum and new areas of the cerebellum in scalp acupuncture.

A Stroke cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.

There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for 13 percent of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths.

In the United States, stroke is a leading cause of death and of serious, long-term adult disability, Stroke Sequelae.

The results of a stroke vary, but symptoms can include:

Muscular: paralysis with weak muscles, problems with coordination, stiff muscles, overactive reflexes, or paralysis of one side of the body
Whole body: balance disorder, fatigue, lightheadedness, or vertigo
Visual: blurred vision, double vision, sudden visual loss, or temporary loss of vision in one eye
Speech: difficulty speaking, slurred speech, or speech loss
Sensory: pins and needles or reduced sensation of touch
Facial: muscle weakness or numbness
Limbs: numbness or weakness
Also common: difficulty swallowing, headache, hemiplegia, numbness, aphasia, inability to understand, limping, mental confusion, or rapid involuntary eye movement

People who receive early intervention after a stroke can make an effective recovery, sometimes regaining almost all the function lost during the stroke. Chinese scalp acupuncture is most effective when received with six months of experiencing a stroke, but even longterm stroke patients have experienced improvement with treatment. Scalp acupuncture is a contemporary acupuncture technique with just 40 years of history. It integrates traditional Chinese needling methods with Western medical knowledge of the cerebral cortex and has been proven to be a very effective technique for treating aftermath of stroke or mini-stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), and other central nervous system disorders.

While the benefits of acupuncture therapies for stroke are well known in China and Japan, its introduction in the US is relatively recent, with few practitioners having the training to carry out the protocols.

The medical profession as a whole is waiting for randomized, clinical trials before recommending acupuncture for stroke. While we fully support clinical trials, we also know that there are thousands of patients who could benefit now from this low-cost, safe treatment.


Acupuncture for Stroke Therapy: an overview

Imaging Observation of Scalp Acupuncture on Brain Gray Matter Injury in Stroke Patients with Cerebral Infarction

An MD’s point of view

9000 Needles, Documentary Film