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Saskatchewan patients stand by MS treatment deemed ‘ineffective'
Published Wednesday, December 13, 2017 7:38PM CST
Saskatchewan multiple sclerosis patients stand by the so-called “liberation treatment” recently deemed ineffective.
Liberation treatment involves opening up and removing vein blockages, which Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni believed could relieve MS symptoms.
Zamboni recently published a study that found his own procedure was “a largely ineffective technique” and “cannot be recommended in patients with MS.”
“When patients got a liberation treatment versus a sham procedure — which is when they thought they got it, but nothing was actually done — there was no difference in outcomes,” Dr. Ilia Poliakov, director of Saskatoon’s MS Clinic, said.
But Michelle Walsh, a Saskatchewan woman who received the procedure four times — once in Bulgaria and three times in California — disagrees that the treatment was ineffective.
“I believe in this still and many patients do because we’re the walking testament that it worked,” Walsh told CTV News via Skype from Beechy, Sask.
Walsh said she credits the treatment for curing her lack of fatigue, the ability to give birth to her third son and not needing a wheelchair.
Regina Coronation Park MLA Mark Docherty said despite the treatment being discredited, he would recommend liberation therapy.
“I experienced immediate symptom relief. It was rather astounding,” Docherty said.
Docherty’s friend captured the difference in the way he walked into the hospital, versus walking out.
“Thirty hours I walked out and it was stark. It was stunning in the difference. So my mobility, which isn’t placebo, you can’t fake mobility, was rather pronounced,” Docherty said.
Dr. Poliakov said the reason Docherty, Walsh and other patients experienced relief from the ineffective treatment was because of timing.
“Depending when somebody enters a study or gets a procedure done, they might already be on the downslope of their symptoms improving,” Dr. Poliakov said.
Both patients and doctors say the ineffective procedure created lessons for future MS treatments.