Family hopes reverse stroke treatment will help their Joel
AN INJECTION that could repair brain damage suffered 23 years ago sounded at first to be a bit like magic dust to Toowoomba mum Coralie Graham.
But intense investigation and a substantial financial commitment have her convinced there is a good chance a procedure popularly known as a reverse stroke will remove the fog shrouding her son Joel Shepherd's mind.
Mr Shepherd was three-and-a-half years old when complications arising from gastroenteritis caused fluid to put pressure on his brain.
He was extremely fortunate to survive, but did not escape brain damage that has left him in need of 24-hour care.
His mother, who has worked as a nurse as well as a psychologist, was fascinated to see a 60 minutes report in which a stroke victim in the United States had her symptoms reversed by a procedure known as perispinal etanercept.
It involved injecting the drug etanercept, used in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, into a large blood vessel at the base of the patient's neck.
"I know that Joel kind of lives in this fog," Ms Graham said.
"Sometimes you will see him out of the fog and you will see just glimpses that he absolutely understands."
Ms Graham hopes the procedure will reduce inflammation on her son's brain injury and restore some brain function.
"With the chance for there to be improvement, I can't not do anything."
She will take her son to Los Angeles where he is scheduled to have the procedure on July 21.
Her other adult children Kris and Susan will join them.
"They have been on this journey as well."
The procedure is expensive, with Ms Graham only prepared to describe the outlay as being "a lot".
Her daughter Susan Ryan agreed it was something the family had to try.
"I just want my brother, the little person he was all those years ago, back," Mrs Ryan said.
"If I can't have that, any improvement, like for him to able to go to the loo or have a bath by himself - as any other 26-year-old man would - would be life changing for him and us too."
To follow their journey or for information on how to donate visit www.facebook.com/hope4joel or email firstname.lastname@example.org.