One hundred and forty-five cases of paralysis due to poliomyelitis between nine months and 22 years were studied, for the effect of Acupuncture Therapy at the Indian Acupuncture Research and Training Centre, Raipur, from June 1975 to December 1978.
Involvement of one limb was found in 66.9 per cent of cases, two limbs in 26.2 per cent and more than two limbs in 4.8 per cent of cases. Around 102 patients (70.3 per cent) had grade ‘O’ muscle power when therapy was started. And 61 patients (42.07%) showed good improvement and 12 cases (8.2%) showed no improvement and the remaining cases showed slight to moderate improvement.
Improvement in power was seen after therapy for more than 30 days. Beneficial effect of acupuncture therapy as shown in this study is being compared with conventional methods of treatment at this centre.
Acupuncture therapy has been claimed to be beneficial in various acute and chronic neurological conditions, including those associated with pain. It has shown 46 per cent success in treatment of poliomyelitis. Poliomyelitis is a common disorder found in Chhattisgarh region. The present treatment includes rest, orthopaedic appliances, physiotherapy and orthopaedic corrections at a later age if required.
These conventional forms of therapy are generally known to be unsatisfactory and have a limited success in preventing ultimate disability. The rate and degree of recovery depend upon the natural history of the disease, the number of the neurons affected and the extent of their functional impairment rather than the effectiveness of any treatment employed. Recently, it has been shown that acupuncture therapy produces remarkably rapid and at times dramatic improvement of motor functions and relief from accompanying diseases.
The aim of the study was to note the effects of acupuncture therapy on cases of polio-paralysis. The diagnosis of poliomyelitis was based on the history and clinical examinations. A lower motor neuron type of paralysis after a febrile illness was considered as polio. In all cases, muscle testing and evaluation of motor damage were done, as advocated by the Medical Research Council, Great Britain. Acupuncture therapy appeared to be effective in cases of paralysis from poliomyelitis. Good improvement in muscle power was noted in 42.07 per cent of cases. Better improvement in motor power was noted in patients who reported for treatment within one year from the onset of the disease. Better improvement was observed in cases treated for 30 sittings or more.
The present study shows that acupuncture therapy plays an important role in the long term rehabilitation of the patients of poliomyelitis where conventional methods have not been proved to be very satisfactory. A comparative study of acupuncture and other methods of therapy in the management of poliomyelitis is warranted and is being carried out at this centre.
The author is Head of Acupuncture at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi