Acupuncture Aids Swallowing After Stroke
Acupuncture aids swallowing for post-stroke patients. Researchers at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Shenyang, China) found combining acupuncture with standard functional training improves outcomes for patients with dysphagia and other symptoms following a stroke. The study outcomes included overall neurological function scores, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) syndrome scores, water swallowing test scores, and overall efficacy. Although both groups showed improvements following four weeks of treatment, outcomes were superior across all areas in the acupuncture group. 
The control group was comprised of 18 male and 31 female patients with a mean age of 58.5 years. The mean duration of disease was 39.3 days. Of the patients in the control group, 24 suffered cerebral infarctions, 25 had brain hemorrhages, 30 had brainstem lesions, and 19 had cerebral lesions. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups prior to treatment.
Treatment was administered daily, for a total of four weeks, using points on the head.
Outcome measures for the study included neurological function scores, water swallowing test results, TCM syndrome scores, and total efficacy. The neurological function test rated the participants’ consciousness, speech, gaze, limb muscle strength, and walking ability on a scale of 0–45.
The overall efficacy rate was calculated for each group. Patients showing complete resolution of symptoms were classified as cured. Patients showing significant improvement were classified as effective. Patients showing no improvement or a worsening of symptoms were classified as ineffective. The cured and effective rates were added together to give the total effective rate.
In the acupuncture group, there were 30 cured and 18 effective cases, yielding a total efficacy rate of 97.96%. In the control group, there were 25 cured and 19 effective cases, yielding a total efficacy rate of 89.80%. Outcomes were significantly better for patients that had acupuncture treatments.
This study suggests that acupuncture is an effective adjunct to standard functional training for patients suffering from post-stroke dysphagia. Acupuncture has the potential to significantly improve symptoms, including difficulty with swallowing and speech, as well as associated problems including limb hemiplegia.
1. Li Zhi, Jiao Fuying (2018) “Clinical Study of Acupuncture Combined with Swallowing Training in Treatment of Post-Stroke Swallowing Dysfunction” JCAM, Vol. 34 (10) pp.10-13.