Fifteen years after being left mute and seriously brain damaged in a car accident, Washington woman Corrie Anna has travelled to Shanghai in search of traditional Chinese medical treatment.
She joins a wave of travellers who head to a clinic in Shanghai’s Pudong District in search of cures they could not find anywhere else.
“More and more foreign patients are aware of the value of traditional Chinese medicine for many difficult diseases,” said Shen Weidong, deputy director of the traditional Chinese medicine centre in Shanghai’s Shuguang Hospital in Pudong.
With serious brain damage from the accident 15 years ago, Corrie, now 32, suffers dementia and spasms. She cannot talk and can hardly raise her head.
Currently on a three-month treatment regime prescribed by Shen, she undergoes acupuncture and physiotherapy, five days a week.
The acupuncture is painful and sometimes makes her cry, but has some immediate effect in relaxing spasming muscles, says Corrie’s mother Kathy, who came from the US with her daughter three weeks ago.
“It’s possible she can raise head more than before,” Kathy told China Daily.
“But It’s too soon to tell how much progress we can make here.”
After doctors in the United States said treatments available there could offer no further improvement in Corrie’s condition, Kathy brought her daughter to Shanghai in February this year on the advice of her son who has worked in the city since 1998.
The first treatment ignited some hope of improvement and Corrie returned in mid-April for more treatment.
“Our plan for now is to complete the 12 weeks and see Doctor Shen’s recommendation,” said Kathy.
“I have strong hope,” she added.
While Western medicine is vital for the treatment of many diseases, traditional Chinese medicine plays a special role in treating functional deficiency, nerve diseases and many other symptoms, says Shen.
His clinic, located in Pudong’s Zhangjiang High-tech Park, receives 20-30 out patients every afternoon, many of whom are expats from the multi-national businesses in the area.
“Some patients get to know about us by searching the Internet, but most of them heard about our centre through word of mouth,” said Shen.
In the Shuguang Hospital, expat patients can opt to register and line up along with locals, instead of paying for the expensive private service, said Shen.
“Traditional Chinese medicine is making progress thanks to constant innovation and integration with modern technologies,” he added.
It is now common for traditional Chinese medicine doctors to use MRI and CT scans in diagnosing diseases, finer and less painful needles for acupuncture, and processed herbal medicines that are less bitter, said Shen.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD