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How Are Concussions and Brain Injuries Treated With Acupuncture?


Mri brain with headache.

Your brain is a fascinating, complicated central processor made up of roughly 100 billion neurons!  Traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s), commonly referred to as concussions, have gained increasing medical attention recently to quickly diagnose and treat patients and prevent longer duration symptoms and disabilities.  Acupuncture plays a pivotal role in treating brain injuries by immediately regulating brain function, reducing neural inflammation, and stabilizing unexpected mood swings as the brain heals.  Public awareness campaigns by the CDC (the Head’s Up program), clinicians, and athletic trainers are all aiming to increase public awareness to help us all identify signs of concussion earlier.  All for good reason too, injuries to the brain are often downplayed and shrugged off but if not correctly treated serious problems in concentration, mood, memory, and pain perception can echo for months to years.

Acupuncture can significantly reduce the time of healing and decrease many of the uncomfortable symptoms.  Research has demonstrated that electro-acupuncture quickly increases blood flow to the brain [1],[2] while simultaneously clears swelling around the brain [3].  Acupuncture also significantly reduces TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) that reduces the inflammatory response around the brain [4].  Electro-acupuncture along the scalp has been shown to increase proteins and enzymes around the neurons of the brain to promote nerve regeneration and slow the degradation of brains cells from inflammation [5].

Brain injuries are often caused by an abrupt trauma to the head, either a sudden impact that shakes the brain within the skull, or an abrupt violent movement of the head that twists and distort neurons.   Most common causes we see in the clinic are car accidents and sports injuries.  On-the-job concussions are very prevalent also, but unfortunately, often ignored so as to not disrupt workflow.  The “shake it off mentality” does have long term consequences.  It’s important to understand that there are less obvious signs of concussion than loss of consciousness or immediate headache.  Symptoms of dizziness, nausea, anxiety or depression, and sleep disturbances can last for weeks to months after a concussion.

At The WellBridge Clinic, we help identify the severity and specific type of concussion as part of our intake process to best direct the course of treatment. If you or anyone you know has experienced a brain injury, acupuncture will help reestablish normal brain function.

[1] “Changes in Regional Cerebral Blood Flow and Glucose Metabolism Following Electroacupuncture at LI 4 and LI 11 in Normal Volunteers,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 15, No. 10 Original Articles, Young-Sil An, Sang-Kwan Moon, In-Kyu Min, and Deog-Yoon Kim

[2] “Different modes of manual acupuncture stimulation differentially modulate cerebral blood flow velocity, arterial blood pressure and heart rate in human subjects” Neuroscience Letters, Volume 337, Feb 2003, Pages 117, M. Bäcker, M.G. Hammes, M. Valet, M. Deppe, B. Conrad, T.R. Tölle, G. Dobos

[3] “Acupuncture and Neuroregeneration in Ischemic Stroke.” Neural Regen Res 2018;13:573-83, Chang QY, Lin YW, Hsieh CL.

[4] “Anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture stimulation via the vagus nerve,” PLoS ONE, vol. 11, no. 3, 2016, H.-D. Lim, M.-H. Kim, C.-Y. Lee, and U. Namgung.

[5] “Acupuncture induces the proliferation and differentiation of endogenous neural stem cells in rats with traumatic brain injury,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, S. Jiang, W. Chen, Y. Zhang et al., Article ID 2047412, 8 pages, 2016.

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