Before becoming an acupuncturist, in another life, I was an English literature major. Books have always been a passion in my life. I love reading for pleasure and also reading for work, but it isn’t very often when a book allows me to read for both at the same tim
e. That’s one reason I was so excited to read My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. She is a brain scientist who had a cerebrovascular attack (CVA), better known as a stroke, at the age of 37. In the book, she explains about strokes and how they are caused, but more importantly, she writes about her recovery and rehabilitation.

It is an excellent read for anyone who has had a family member or friend suffer from a stroke.

It will open your eyes to how amazing the brain is, as well as help you to understand what a person who has had a stroke is going through and how to better help them in their recovery.

Stroke is the number one disabler in our society and the number three killer.

A stroke refers to a problem with blood vessels carrying oxygen to the cells in the brain. There are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke results from a blood clot getting stuck in an artery in the brain. The clot blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the cells beyond the obstruction, so these brain cells become traumatized and often die. This type of stroke generally affects people over the age of fifty. It is much more common than a hemorrhagic stroke which occurs when blood escapes from the arteries and floods into the brain. It can occur because of an aneurysm, which results from the weakening in the wall of a blood vessel that eventually ruptures, or it can result from a congenital malformation in the blood vessels in the brain. This type of stroke generally affects younger people between the ages of twenty-five to forty-five.

No two strokes are identical in their symptoms because no two brains are absolutely identical in their structure, in their connections, or in their ability to recover. The symptoms of a stroke patient depend on which hemisphere of the brain was affected and also where in that hemisphere the damage was located.

The general warning signs of stroke

S: SPEECH, any problems with language

T: TINGLING, any numbness in the body

R: REMEMBER, any problems with memory

O: OFF BALANCE, any problems with coordination


E: EYES, any problems with vision

We are lucky in the Laurentians to have a good resource in Le Bouclier, which is a rehabilitation center. The physiotherapists and other health-care professionals at these centers work hard to help many stroke patients. Speech therapists are another key component in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Because the left hemisphere of the brain is more often affected by stroke, the majority of stroke sufferers have difficulty with speaking and understanding language. A speech therapist can help work on getting those skills back into shape.

In conjunction with these forms of rehabilitation, acupuncture is an excellent resource for any person who has suffered a stroke, especially if the treatment begins within the first three to six months. Most people who come to the acupuncture clinic after a stroke complain of symptoms such as hemiplegia, which is the inability to move certain muscles groups; aphasia, which is the loss of language use; facial symptoms; and cognitive problems such as loss of memory, depression, confusion, etc. Acupuncture works to stimulate the muscles to continue firing signals to the neurons in the brain. With a stroke, certain areas of the brain have been damaged. Therefore, the brain must work to reactivate those neural pathways using other neurons in the area in order relearn the skills that have been lost. The more often signals are being sent to that area of the brain, the quicker those skills or movements will return.

A multi-disciplinary approach is always the best way towards a quick and speedy recovery, which is what we all are working towards.

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