A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any injury that impacts brain function. Blows, bumps, jolts, or penetrating injuries to the head can cause a TBI. TBIs can create short-term and long-term health issues, with many people seeking treatments such as medications, surgery, or rehabilitation to manage symptoms. Acupuncture shows promise as a minimally-invasive therapy that can promote healing of TBI without side effects. Acupuncture can increase cerebral blood flow, help to regenerate brain cells, and release endorphins, promoting balance and healing throughout the mind and body.
Common Causes of TBI
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main categories of TBI: Mild (concussion), moderate, and severe. TBIs often occur due to a car accident or other incident where the brain experiences sudden and forceful impact. Depending on the severity of the TBI, a person may lose consciousness or exhibit slurred speech, disorientation, or vomiting. Those with mild TBIs may not experience symptoms right away, and they may experience grogginess, headaches, or mental fog without knowing why. These symptoms may ease on their own, but many individuals with TBIs seek treatment to manage persistent symptoms.
How Western Medicine Addresses TBIs
Doctors who practice Western medicine may recommend surgery for moderate to severe TBIs to remove hematomas or stop bleeding in the brain. Some people with TBIs may take medications, such as anti-seizure drugs or pain relievers to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, these medications may carry unwanted side effects. Rehabilitation services, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and mental health therapy, can support recovery as well.
Acupuncture for TBI
Although more comprehensive clinical studies are needed to understand how acupuncture may address TBI symptoms, existing research shows promise. One randomized exploratory study on Service members experiencing TBI headaches found that those receiving acupuncture therapy reported improved headache-related quality of life, more than those who received usual care. Another systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that “the acupuncture group fared better than the control group in the treatment of [disorders of consciousness] after TBI.”
According to a review of the potential for acupuncture to manage severe brain injury symptoms, acupuncture can address “neuroinflammation, intracranial oedema, oxidative stress, and neuronal regeneration” and decrease “spasticity, pain, and the incidence of neurovegetative crisis.” Additionally, a study in lab rats showed that “acupuncture promoted the recovery of neurological impairment after TBI by activating BDNF/TrkB signaling pathway” and “promote the development and survival of neuronal cells and regulate synaptic plasticity and release of neurotransmitters.” Those looking for a natural way to promote healing within the mind and body may find relief from TBI symptoms through acupuncture therapy.
Schedule your appointment with a NW Portland healer today by calling Inner Works Acupuncture at (503) 227-2127.