Functional MRI shows how Acupuncture may help with language recovery in stroke patients

An exciting new study published by the University of Hong Kong has demonstrated just how acupuncture might work for stroke patients suffering with aphasia, a condition where the patient loses the ability to communicate due to brain damage affecting the patient's ability to talk, understand, read and write.

This small scale study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to discover that changes in language function were strongly correlated with brain activation in the affected speech area following acupuncture treatment - encouraging news for patients and healthcare professionals alike.  This study is particularly exciting since the use of fMRI can offer insight as to how acupuncture might work for patients, an area that has baffled scientists and doctors since the 1950s when scientific studies surrounding acupuncture's mechanisms of action began. 

The study authors concluded that 'these preliminary results suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial to language recovery in chronic stroke patients'.

Chau AC, Fai Cheung RT, Jiang X, Au-Yeung PK, Li LS. An fMRI study showing the effect of acupuncture in chronic stage stroke patients with aphasia. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2010 Mar;3(1):53-57.

Lily Lai