Joel Shepherd with his mum Coralie Graham. Joel sustained a brain injury after medical complications in 1991 at the age of 3yrs. Joel is able to walk after receiving the PSE treatment. pic David Martinelli
Joel Shepherd with his mum Coralie Graham. Joel sustained a brain injury after medical complications in 1991 at the age of 3yrs. Joel is able to walk after receiving the PSE treatment. pic David Martinelli

World-first trial brings new hope to stroke victims

THERE is new hope for Australian stroke victims after a study from the Griffith University School of Medical Science showed positive results using Perispinal Etanercept treatment to reduce post-stroke pain and muscle spasticity.

The research was funded by a Toowoomba based charity, Stroke Recovery Trial Fund, which was founded by Dr Coraline Graham after her son Joel Shepherd suffered a brain injury at three-years-old.

Dr Graham said she and her team of directors had worked hard over the past five years to raise funds for the world-first PSE clinical trial at the Griffith University School of Medical Science.

Mr Shepherd travelled to the US in 2014, at age 26, to receive PSE treatment from Dr Edward Tobinick, who treats stroke patients with PSE (off label) at the Institute of Neurological Recovery in Florida.

Dr Graham said her son had showed great improvements in speech, communication, memory, mobility, experiencing less seizures and choking episodes, and improved swallowing.

However, despite positive observational studies demonstrating patient improvements, Dr Graham said to get PSE approved in Australia, clinical trials were needed.

"The Griffith University study published (last) week is the first vital step in getting PSE approved to improve the lives of those with neurological injury," Dr Graham said.

"The study clearly shows that PSE is an effective treatment for reducing post-stroke pain, and significantly reduces painful and disabling muscle spasticity.

"PSE treats the neuroinflammation that occurs post-stroke and differs from emergency care for acute stroke.

"Etanercept, an approved treatment for treating the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis in Australia when given by subcutaneous injection, has been suggested by a number of authors that it would be effective in treating this neuroinflammation.

"The molecule of Etanercept is 250 times larger than blood the brain barrier allows through.

"PSE is injected into a group of blood vessels in an area near, but not into, the spine.

"Straight after injection the patient is tilted, head down, which starts to reduce neuroinflammation immediately - even many years post stroke or brain injury."

Dr Graham said PSE had greatly improved her son's life and independence, which had in-turn reduced the stress and demands on herself.

"This clinical trial is the first of its type anywhere in the world and shows that medication such as Etanercept reaches the brain and can be used to deliver medication directly," she said.

"It is exciting recognition of the ongoing proactive work in this area by the SRTF and also the amazing life-changing potential this could have for hundreds of thousands of people who suffer stroke every year.

"The increasing momentum around this treatment can only be good and help expedite the research, and in turn the rollout of this treatment to the millions of people that need it."

For more information about the Stroke Recovery Trial Fund or to make a donation, visit strokerecoverytrialfund.org


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