Chinese scientists have made a significant breakthrough in treating post-stroke dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, using electroacupuncture. The study, published in the international science journal Nature Communications, was led by Professor Xu Nenggui, Vice-Chairman of the China Association for Acupuncture and Moxibustion and a Professor at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. It sheds light on how to treat the condition with traditional therapies, such as electroacupuncture, which has been used to stimulate the Lianquan acupoint, located at the depression superior to the hyoid bone, for treating dysphagia. While there was a lack of knowledge about the neurological mechanism in the process, this new study demonstrates that electrical stimulation at the Lianquan acupoint can improve swallowing function through the activation of motor cortex inputs.
The findings not only explain a critical pathway for how the motor cortex controls the swallowing process, but also suggest a potential treatment strategy for swallowing-related disorders. Annually, approximately 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke, and about 78% of them develop post-stroke dysphagia. This is a common complication caused by damage to the central nervous system, which leads to difficulty swallowing and aspiration pneumonia, resulting in a significantly higher mortality rate. Therefore, the treatment of dysphagia is of paramount importance in the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
Electroacupuncture is a widely accepted traditional therapy that has been used for thousands of years in China. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific acupoints, which are then stimulated with a low-voltage electric current. The findings of this new study are important because they provide a deeper understanding of how electroacupuncture can be used to treat post-stroke dysphagia, opening up new treatment options for patients.
In conclusion, the research conducted by Professor Xu Nenggui and his team of scientists represents a significant step forward in our understanding of how to treat post-stroke dysphagia. This new knowledge could help to reduce the suffering of stroke patients and improve their quality of life.