Posted: May 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Hockey legend Gordie Howes star power is raising awareness in the United States and Canada about advances in stem-cell therapies as he continues what is being called a miraculous recovery from a massive stroke.
Those closest to him, including his son, Toledo radiologist Dr. Murray Howe, are convinced the former Detroit Red Wings player would have died if he had not traveled to a medical clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for an experimental stem-cell treatment not yet available in the United States.
After a debilitating stroke on Oct. 26, Mr. Howe, 86, had a few weeks of slight recovery, but then his health went downhill quickly, said Dr. Howe, director of sports medicine imaging for ProMedica Toledo Hospital. The family had started preparing for his funeral. But that all turned around after he had the adult stem-cell treatment on Dec. 8.
If you saw him now, you wouldnt know he had a stroke, Dr. Howe said.
Its been wonderful. Every day I would say hes a little bit better, and there are little hints of improvement. Certainly in the first month, every day his strength, coordination, and balance were better. He has been eating like a horse. He had lost 20 pounds, and now he has gained back 25 pounds, so he is pretty close to his playing weight now, Dr. Howe said.
In describing his fathers treatment and recovery in the last three months, Dr. Howe does not hesitate to use words such as unbelievable, astonishing, and amazing.
Eight hours after Mr. Howe received what is called a lumbar puncture, where stem cells were injected in the spinal fluid of his lower back by an anesthesiologist, he went from being bedridden and only mumbling short sentences to speaking clearly and walking with assistance, Dr. Howe said.
On the second day at the clinic, he received an IV infusion of a different type of adult stem-cell treatment.
When he returned to his home in Lubbock, Texas, on Dec. 10, Mr. Howes recovery from the stroke continued at an rapid rate, his son said.
His vocabulary had dropped down. If you showed him pictures the speech therapists when they were testing him, he could name about one of 10 items. After his stem-cell treatments, he was able to identify 80 percent of the pictures. The speech therapist was just floored, Dr. Howe said.
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