Friday, 05 Jun, 2009 Health & Fitness

Botox Injections Help Stroke Victim Walk Again After 20 Years in a Wheelchair


A man who has been paralyzed for 20 years after suffering a stroke started walking after being carried out the most common cosmetic operation - Botox injection. Russell McPhee worked in the meat industry and was an active player of football, cricket and basketball, but at the age of 26 he suddenly collapsed.

After Mr. McPhee woke up he was in the hospital and doctors told him that he had suffered a stroke and most likely he would never be able to walk again.

"I felt my life had ended. I lost my job, my wife left me, I ended up with nothing," said Mr. McPhee from Victoria in Australia. Now he is 49 and is able to walk 65 feet without any aid. If he uses a walking frame, he can walk over 300 feet.

It is worth mentioning that about 40 percent of people who suffered a stroke end up with limb spasticity - a condition in which human muscles in both the arms and legs become overactive, in most cases leading to spasm that causes stiffness, pain and malformation.

Previously researchers discovered that Botox is able to block a chemical that signals the muscles to contract. Still it is unknown whether the injection can help people with stroke completely recover, making it possible for them to grab a ball for example.

Dr Nathan Johns, Mr. McPhee's doctor said: "When he came to us the spasticity in his muscles had not been treated for 20 years, so it was very strong. Usually giving a patient botulinum toxin relieves the stiffness by relaxing the muscle, but it also weakens the muscle which means the patient would not regain much mobility." However, he added that Mr. McPhee has strong muscles, though he was sitting in a wheelchair for about 20 years.

He injected botulinum toxin straight into the man's muscles 18 months ago and in 12 weeks the injection started working, relaxing muscles and allowing the doctor to start invasive physiotherapy.

Now Mr. McPhee is dating his childhood love, Kerry Crossley, and looks forward to get rid of his walking frame. "My son was only a few months old when I had the stroke and I have always wanted to show him that I could walk like other dads. 'I want to go dancing with Kerry and play basketball with my son," he said.

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