Acupuncture for Spinal Cord Injuries

By Pacific College - December 30, 2014

One of the most traumatic events that the body can experience is a spinal cord injury. The aftermath of this debilitating injury is usually severe and in the most extreme of cases can result in death or permanent paralysis. When the nerve roots or fiber tracts of the spine are damaged, signals to and from the brain fail to occur or have difficulty happening, thus causing the impedance of certain motor functions.  Throughout history, humans have searched for various procedures to aid victims of spinal cord injuries, but one of the most ancient long-lasting and thoroughly used methods would be oriental medicine via acupuncture and massage therapy.

The road to recovery after a spinal cord injury can be a long and enduring ordeal that requires faith, will power, hope, stamina, patience and above all, an effective treatment, such as the combination of oriental medicine and physical therapy.  Acupuncture is a virtually painless procedure where hair thin needles are inserted into the trouble areas of the patient, stimulating muscles and areas where qi (or energy) moves through the body from one point to another.

Clinical Studies on Acupuncture for Spinal Cord Injuries

In a clinical study carried out in 2003, a team of doctors directed by Alice M.K. Wong, MD began spinal cord therapy through acupuncture on a group of patients recovering from their injuries. The doctors found that after beginning treatment at various acupoints including the bilateral Hou Hsi (SI3), Shen Mo (B62), the antihelix, helix, and lower portion of the ear-back areas, patients were showing significant improvements. Neurologic behaviors including sensory and motor skills improved greatly in the patients who were put through the regimen of oriental medicine including acupuncture, massage and physical therapy.  In their conclusion, the team of doctors and researchers determined this stunning medical breakthrough:

The use of concomitant auricular and acupuncture therapies, when implemented early in acute spinal cord injury, can contribute to significant neurologic and functional recoveries.
Many other clinical studies which have been highly cited and respected occurred before and after this groundbreaking research in oriental medicine, all of which determining the same conclusion. Acupuncture and massage in conjunction with physical therapy greatly improved the conditions of those suffering from a spinal cord injury.

The Impact on ASIA Impairment Scale Ratings

One of the most critical and important pieces of evidence in the specific recoveries was the increase in ASIA impairment scale ratings. The ASIA impairment scale rates a patient on levels of how damaging their paralysis is due to their spinal cord injury. When this rating increased in patients who had undergone acupuncture treatments, the scientific evidence revealed that oriental therapies such as acupuncture and massage did improve the body’s neurological response times and helped patients with spinal cord injuries on the long road to recovery.

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