Is acupuncture covered by ACC in the treatment of Post Concussion Syndrome?
Post concussion syndrome is a condition that can be treated with acupuncture in New Zealand under the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). It is sometimes referred to as TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. The incidence in New Zealand is quite high compared to other western countries. New Zealand has 790 per 100,000 population whereas Western Australia has only 86 per 100,000.
The chief symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Concussion Syndrome are
- not remembering what happened immediately before or after the injury
- confusion, difficulty concentrating
- loss of judgement and coordination, walking unsteadily, dizziness
- slurred speech
- headache that lasts a long time or gets worse
- vomiting or nausea
- ringing in their ears
- pupils of their eyes being different sizes
- changes in vision
- becoming sensitive to light
- loss of smell or taste
- trouble concentrating
- personality changes
- not being able to sleep or being very sleepy
It can happen as a result of getting hit hard or being shaken forcefully. The brain can bounce around inside the skull and become bruised. This bruising of the brain can damage nerve fibres and blood vessels.
From a Chinese medicine diagnostic perspective this bruising is classified as blood stasis.
There are special acupuncture points such as xuehai which translates as sea of blood and ge shu Bladder 17 on the back. Both these points are commonly used to improve blood circulation and used in all types of injury rehabilitation.
Acupuncture points on the head itself are also used as a local treatment to promote repair in the area.
Depending on which symptoms the person finds most distressing, such as sleeping problems and memory loss, other acupuncture points will be added.
Why are the herbs for Post Concussion Syndrome different for each individual?
There are many herbs and formulations that can help deal with the symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome. It is important to understand that seeing a practitioner of Chinese medicine would result in different herbs being prescribed to different people, even though both having post concussion syndrome. This is because all people are different and all their signs and symptoms and constitutional makeups are taken into account. For example, one person may have hit their head on a beam at work and this person is in their fifty’s and has a history of high blood pressure and diabetes. Another person may have had their head shaken during a car accident and is suffering from arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Formulations are always balanced to suit the individual needs of the person.
What are some examples of herbs that may be used in the treatment of Post Concussion Syndrome?
There is category of Chinese herbs that come under the title of herbs that regulate the blood. They can be used for any number of injuries affecting limbs or torso as well as the brain. One herb niu xi has a special property of targeting blood flow to travel downwards so is an ideal herb to use in case of concussion. A herb such as chuan xiong is useful if there is headache as a result after a head injury. The author has found one herb useful in the treatment of irritability after head trauma which is he huan pi. Remember, the practitioner will add other herbs to balance out the action or address other issues in the body.
Who can I see who is a qualified full time trained acupuncturist to treat ACC related injuries in New Zealand?
Heiko Lade practices in Hawkes Bay and John Kennedy in the Wairarapa region. Mana Fleming is based in Christchurch. There are over 700 members of Acupuncture New Zealand spread out through out New Zealand.