Brain injury victim walks for first time in 23 years

TOOWOOMBA mother Coralie Graham hopes more research will be done into reverse stroke therapy in Australia after witnessing a remarkable improvement in her son.

Joel Shepherd, 26, has undergone two perispinal Etanercept treatments in the past fortnight at a US medical institute in Los Angeles.

Injections of a drug usually used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis have relieved the effects of a brain injury Mr Shepherd suffered as a three-year-old boy.

"The fact that he can walk more independently, now with little help, is definitely the biggest improvement we've seen since the second treatment," Mrs Graham said.

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"His concentration and conversation has also improved."

She said it was amazing to see Joel taking steps.

"He hasn't been able to walk like this since he was a toddler, before the injury, 23 years ago."

The result has made worthwhile the preparation, saving and community support to get Mr Shepherd to the Institute of Neurological Recovery.

Toowoomba man Joel Shepherd is watched by his carer Shintu Thomas as he takes a few steps after receiving his second round of reverse stroke therapy
Toowoomba man Joel Shepherd is watched by his carer Shintu Thomas as he takes a few steps after receiving his second round of reverse stroke therapy Photo Contributed
Mrs Graham said there was no reason to believe the results were not permanent.

"The previous research by the Institute of Neurological Recovery has shown that patients continue to improve for weeks and months after the treatment."

She said it was disappointing her family had to travel to the US because the treatment was not available in Australia.

"We're encouraged that there is a perispinal Etanercept trial for stroke starting next year at Griffith University.

"The potential for improving the quality of life of many people who have who have experienced brain injury, stroke or Alzheimer's disease is immeasurable and the flow on financial costs to families and the government... is extensive."



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