TREATMENT OPTION: Ecstatic about the announcement of the novel drug trial are (from left) Stroke Recovery Trial Fund director Rebecca Darr, Dr Coralie Graham and Joel Shepherd.
TREATMENT OPTION: Ecstatic about the announcement of the novel drug trial are (from left) Stroke Recovery Trial Fund director Rebecca Darr, Dr Coralie Graham and Joel Shepherd. Kevin Farmer

'Life-changing' stroke trial gets green light

A NOVEL drug trial due to start in coming weeks could prove to be a life-changer for those affected by stroke in Australia.

For Toowoomba associate professor Dr Coralie Graham, the treatment has already "provided hope when there was little".

Dr Graham's son Joel suffered a traumatic brain injury from a medical complication at just three years old.

In 2014, her family travelled to the United States, where her son received treatment with a new drug called Perispinal Etanercept.

Dr Graham said that decision "changed everything".

"Within 15 minutes of the drug being administered, we could see a change in Joel," Dr Graham said.

"The muscle spasticity in his face had gone. I was simply amazed.

"He had always had difficulty swallowing, and we lived in fear of getting a phone call telling us he had choked to death.

"Now I am far more relaxed when I hear the phone ring."

Dr Graham said the treatment had improved her son's mobility, memory and speech patterns, giving him a better quality of life. There are currently few stroke treatments on the market.

The trial's potential has been bolstered by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt's announcement of a $1 million package called Return to Life, Return to Work through the National Stroke Foundation.

Part of the package includes further studies into the use of PSE.

Dr Graham, a key campaigner for this support, has also raised more than $105,000 for the PSE trial through her organisation the Stroke Recovery Trial Fund.

"I was so driven to make this treatment available for others, as I know there are so many families just like mine, looking for an answer," Dr Graham said.

"Everyone thinks it will never happen to them, but strokes can strike anyone at any time - from babies to healthy adults."

The trial, which is the first of its kind in Australia, will be conducted by researchers at Griffith University over a two-month period.

More information on the trial and stroke fund donation options can be found at strokerecoverytrialfund.org.



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