Dr. Michael Lines, TCM
In May of 2002 I travelled to a TCM hospital in Guilin, China, where children with Cerebral Palsy were being treated with acupuncture and physiotherapy stretching techniques.
At the hospital the staff indicated that they only worked on children up to the age of six, claiming after that the disability was too ingrained in the body. I had not thought of working with this population but something peaked my interest.
When I returned home I contacted the mother of a teenage girl with Cerebral Palsy (CP), to see if her daughter, W, would be interested in trying acupuncture. W is completely wheelchair bound, nonverbal, and needs 24 hour care, as she is unable to care for herself. W's CP is the result of an injury to her brainstem at birth.
At the first meeting with W and her mother, I offered to treat her for a year free- 5 times per week with every 3rd week off, if I could use the information and results in a paper on CP.
I told her mother that we had to focus on one thing and work with that- they chose to work on W's drooling as it was plentiful, which resulted in many changes of clothing throughout the day.
For the first acupuncture treatment (July 22/02) I used St. 4, Ren 24, and Du 26 using 36 gauge ½ cun needles, with Ren 23 in and out. Electrical stimulation Dense/Disperse was used for the scalp acupuncture; two 1cun needles down the motor area, two 1cun needles down the sensory area from the midline down.
The needles were spaced 1cun apart, working on the foot/leg and hand/arm areas. Included were the tremor & chorea areas, with speech area's 1 and 2. Needles and electrical stimulation were retained for 35 minutes. I then used Tui Na on the hand, arms, feet and legs with PNF stretching (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation).
The 2nd treatment was the same but I added ear seeds to the treatment using Shenmen, thalamus and brainstem.
In only ten treatments her drooling was greatly reduced, to the point where she did not need to have her top changed or a towel draped around her shoulders.
I continued this treatment plan with minor changes for the first six months (by Sept. I began using Korean hand needles, as W was becoming needle shy, especially around the mouth points).
In Nov./ 02, she was able to use her legs to seat herself properly into the car. In Jan./ 03, for the first time in her life W was able to get the cloth off her shoulder and wipe her own face, and using her sign language let it be known that she was now able to feel when there was drool on her face.
Another 1st around that same time was that she was able to have me hold one hand in front and bring the other hand to the same place without any spastic movements. Normally for most people with CP it is not possible to have both hands together in front.
The biggest milestone for W is she now has enough hand control to hold a paintbrush and paint in her art class (She says she feels like she is flying when she paints!).
By February 2003 W was able to use her electric wheel chair (which has controls in the head rest) and go one block without her mother overriding the controls. The next day she was able to drive nine blocks having help only at the intersections.
Three months later, in May /03, W stood against my treatment table with the only help coming from her own arms! This was another first for; she said she was terrified but was happy she was able to do it.
From August 2003 to the present, W continues to receive twice weekly acupuncture treatments. Today after 2 years of acupuncture, her artwork is paying for acupuncture. W has had 3 art shows and her work is on display at Thrifty's Food store in Sidney, BC.
Through distant education, W is in the process of finishing grade twelve, aiming for a full academic graduation, and hopes of attending art college in the future.
Her head control is so good now that she is using a "state of the art" eye-gaze system to run her computer. She sits at the computer for hours reading because it is something that she is finally able to do on her own.
Everyone needs freedom to express themselves (however that may be). My small part in helping W has been a privilege and an honour.