One Month in Tianjin Zhongyi Daxue – Tianjin First Teaching Hospital, China, 2007
In 2007 I travelled to China to study Taijiquan at the birth place of in Chen village, Henan province, followed by one month spent shadowing doctors at the First Teaching TCM hospital in Tainjin, about two hours south east of Beijing.
In Chinese medicine theory, stroke is referred to as Zhong Feng which means ‘central wind’….. Wind is metaphor and is one if the internal evils that can cause disruption in the channels and organs and in extreme cases of a sudden rush to the head or central (zhong) arteries, stroke.
This is the first time I had seen an eight storey hospital dedicated to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The lower levels were dedicated to outpatients, with special wards for Tuina Chinese medical massage and whole floors for acupuncture and the entire lower level for the preparation and dispensation of herbs. On the wards, the doctors would be seeing fifty to eighty patients per day each, with, ten to fifteen per session in an open room. The main conditions that people came for were for the after effects of stroke, both major and minor. Facial paralysis, paralysis of the arms or legs and were having on going treatment to restore their movement as best as possible. Here I met in-patients who I had met before as inpatients and could hardly walk or operate their arm a few days prior and had now become out patients either bringing themselves in or, in the worse cases, being wheeled in by relatives.
In the upper floors of the building there were the foreign in patients who would come from as far as Australia to seek treatment. One such couple I met had been there for six months – the husband having suffered the stroke – and swore by the beneficial affects of the treatments. For the in-patients, once the acute stage of severe stroke had been handled with relevant tests and drugs administered in accordance with orthodox medial protocol , acupuncture was administered as soon as possible twice a day and often in conjunction with herbs. Out-patients would receive acupuncture once a day for about ten days before taking a break and then repeating if necessary. I shadowed Dr. Zhao, she specialised in paralysis, and Dr. Lin, famous for his deep needling and treatment of slipped discs.
According to the research here – Tianjin hospital is especially known for it’s pioneering work in the treatment of stroke – acupuncture is most effective for the recovery of motor function if administered immediately and the within the first month. The challenge many doctors face, such as I learned from a seminar with Dr. Lin (senior professor from Shanghai TCM Hospital and pioneer in acupuncture anaesthesia as shown on the BBC documentary) was that the orthodox doctors would often refuse to ‘release’ patients for acupuncture sometimes for as long as two weeks. Although much can be done to help patients in both mild and extreme cases of paralysis, these first two weeks and up to a month afterwards is the most crucial time to get results.
I would like to see Acupuncture more recognised in the UK and more research done in the field.
Edward Shearer is available to see stroke and paralysis victims at either the Brighton or Hove clinic in East Sussex or on an out-call basis for more severe and acute cases. See www.sheareracupuncture.co.uk for more details.