This Facebook post is spreading like crazy. With 34 million video views, it's possible you've seen it.
It's called "How to Save a Person from Stroke Using Only a Needle." It's a 90-second video promoting an alternative stroke treatment.
It says you should wait before sending a stroke victim to the hospital, and prick all ten of their fingers with a needle. Both earlobes too.
About 850,000 Facebook users believe it enough to share the post to their feeds. But is that an effective response to a medical emergency?
I'm checking this claim by looking at the best practices of the American Heart and Stroke Associations and talking to Dr. Osman Mir. He's a Stroke Neurologist with Baylor, Scott & White in Dallas.
“Could this improve symptoms?” I asked.
“There is no physiological proof that this would work,” said Mir.
It's the time wasted time that's the biggest problem. According to the American Heart and Stroke Association getting immediate medical attention "may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death."
It recommends thinking of four letters to spot strokes, F-A-S-T. Face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911.
"The most important thing about all these treatments is time. The early we act on strokes, the more brain we are able to save,” Mir said.
The video infers pricking fingers is more important first-aid then getting to the hospital fast. But where does this idea of finger-pricking come from? Well, it actually has a long history in Eastern medicine.
The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine tested the regime in 2005 and found pricking the fingers and earlobes "can improve the consciousness of patients" with mild stroke.
But here's the big problem with that study. All the participants had already been in the hospital for up to 3-days. Meaning, it may show promise as a treatment, but it's not been tested as first aid.
So, what's the bottom line? Pricking fingers is not an effective response to a stroke. Anything that delays treatment for stroke victim is bad advice.
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