Much interest in stroke treatment

Dave Griffin.
Dave Griffin.
A Dunedin man believed to be the first New Zealander to undergo innovative stroke therapy in the United States may have become a trailblazer.

Brenda Griffin said her phone and social media page had been ''red hot'' since the Otago Daily Times this month featured the treatment her husband Dave received in Los Angeles.

The treatment involves injecting etanercept, a drug usually used for arthritis, in the base of the neck, and turning the patient upside down for 10 minutes.

Mr Griffin's speech, walking, fatigue, pain levels and reading have improved.

An Auckland couple recently flew to Dunedin to spend the day with the Griffins to discuss the treatment, which they hoped might improve the husband's recovery from stroke.

Their GP and neurologist had advised against it, telling them to save their money.

However, the couple are going through the process of attending the LA clinic, which involves a pre-approval consultation.

''They met us and realised we are not involved in any big scam - just genuine people that gave it a go and it helped, [and] they were a lot more comfortable.''

More recently, Mrs Griffin had also liaised with a couple from near Christchurch who are in Los Angeles for the treatment.

Mrs Griffin referred to a recent English pilot study that demonstrated etanercept's effectiveness against Alzheimer's disease, which showed the drug's potential went beyond arthritis.

The etanercept treatment could potentially be given to stroke patients in every GP practice, she said.

''It doesn't cure, but it just helps.''

Mrs Griffin said the treatment developer, Dr Edward Tobinick, was treating patients from all over the world.

Brain Health Research Centre deputy director Associate Prof John Reynolds was sceptical when contacted yesterday.

Etanercept might offer promise for stroke studies, but as yet it was not backed by ''solid studies''.

Treatments not backed by clinical studies were potentially harmful, he believed.

''I know it's the stock answer. I know it's a frustrating answer, but we've got to be a little careful because you have to have the evidence ...''

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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