Chinese Medicine defines two kinds of stroke, of the head and of the heart. A head stroke is called a wind-stroke and can occasionally be fatal or leave victims partially paralysed.
It happens when the blood supply to the brain is either disturbed or insufficient and can vary in severity and symptoms. There may be sudden loss of movement or speech, dizziness, blurred vision, sudden heaviness in the limbs or feelings of numbness, and a loss of consciousness.
If symptoms last for more than twenty-four hours, a full stroke has occurred. Sometimes they wear off after a few hours, in which case the condition is called a transient ischaemic attack. One in three strokes is fatal and, depending on the extent of damage, survivors may be left with impairment of speech, movement or ability to read. The sooner a patient receives treatment, the less damage is likely to occur.
The main symptoms can often be recognised by using the following guidelines, called F.A.S.T.
- Face – The face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – The person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – It’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
The Chinese Medicine treatment for a stroke involves nourishing the Liver and the Kidneys, to move the blood and open the channels to clear the Wind. Herbal prescriptions are complicated and depend on the severity of the stroke, but a very effective Chinese medicine involves Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) which is said to dissolve or prevent blood clots in the brain. It can be made into an injection and given intravenously.
After a stroke, acupuncture can often be extremely helpful in treating paralysis and aiding the recovery of those with speech difficulties. The earlier it is started, the more effective and the speedier the response will be. Where the damage is of very long standing, recovery is likely to be slow, and may not be effective.
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