(PRWEB) February 5, 2003
Dr. W. Hammesfahr, in private practice, discovered that certain FDA approved medications might help increase blood flow to damaged areas of the brain after stroke and other injuries. Thus, injuries that were thought to be permanent, even years after a patient had stopped improving, could now be treated successfully, and most patients would improve. Essentially, this means that most patients with permanent injuries from a stroke can get better, even years after their stroke. Most patients with permanent brain injuries, even years after their injury, can get better.
Further work showed that it was also applicable to other diseases of the brain where insufficient blood flow to the brain is a part of the problem, diseases like Attention Deficit Disorder, Migraine, Dementia, Autism, and Schizophrenia.
Naturally, such findings from an unknown physician would result in controversy and attacks.
Although he has gained great recognition, including a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1999, he has also gained attacks. Neurologists in the State of Florida have lodged complaints with the Board of Medicine, who filed charges that this new therapy flew in the face of our understanding of stroke, and therefore was fraudulent.
The charges are based on allegations, which are between 2 and 5 years old, which state that Dr. HammesfahrÂs revolutionary stroke therapy could not possibly be true, and therefore MUST BE fraudulent. A retired 80-year old neurologist, and the other two by neurologists in neighboring communities filed one of the grievances. One neurologist who brought the charges was the President of the Florida Society of Neurologists.
Evidence presented was reviewed by Susan Kirkland, administrative law judge, included testimony by neurologists from around the country that improvement after stroke or brain injury simply cannot occur after 3-9 months have passed from the injury.
Dr. Steven Novella, of Yale University and Quackwatch, testified that improvement is impossible. Dr. S. Hoffman, who was involved in writing the Stroke guidelines for treatment for the State of Florida, testified that improvement is simply not possible. Dr. Friend and Dr. Scales, clinical neurologists, testified similarly.
Dr. Hammesfahr presented videotapes of patients from before and after treatment, as well as testimony from patients who had been paralyzed or without speech for longer than one year.
-- Larry Senko, unable to speak following stroke for two years, recovered with treatment, and testified verbally for over two hours.
-- Brent Bohne, father of a child who had severe cerebral palsy (a type of childhood stroke) showed videotapes of his daughter unable to sit or stand and only having voluntary control over one arm for 4 years before treatment, days later able to walk with minor assistance, and months later able to run with minor assistance.
-- Steven Putnal, former NFL football player paralyzed by a stroke for 18 months before starting treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, now walks without assistance, and has use of his previously paralyzed hand. He has returned to his hobbies of hunting, and walking the woods. Before treatment, his walking was so poor that his wife changed the television channels due to his inability to walk, and his hand was paralyzed.
-- Dr. Scott Russell, a neurologist who had a stroke, came to Dr. Hammesfahr approximately 10-12 hours after stroke. Dr. Russell, a specialist in stroke and brain injury, testified that his chances of ever having full recovery with his impairment having lasted over 3 hours, was less than 1%. He further testified that within 10 minutes of starting treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, his speech returned, and he returned to full duties the next day.
-- Dr. W. Flanagan, a physician who was forced to retire due to paralysis from a stroke, testified that after undergoing treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, he was able to return to practice, and himself opened a stroke center in Georgia patterned using Dr. HammesfahrÂs technique.
IN ADDITION, Dr. Jacob Greene, eminent neurologist, publisher of numerous articles and books in neurology, and a Professor of Neurology, supported Dr. HammesfahrÂs new approach to the treatment of Stroke and Brain Injury.
Diane Hartley, court recognized expert in Physical Therapy, testified that she and Dr. Alex Gimon were asked to develop a prospective analysis of Dr. HammesfahrÂs technique, by evaluating patients before starting treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, and at the end of the first 3 weeks of medical care. The patients were to be examined with standardized testing techniques common in the areas of Physical Therapy and Neuropsychology. The patients would undergo no other treatments of any sort, except for treatment with medications guided by Dr. Hammesfahr. She and Dr. Gimon testified that most of these patients had been paralyzed for longer than one year, and thus would not be expected to have any changes in their abilities regardless of any treatment modality given. In fact, most had improvement in just the first 3 weeks of treatment, with no other treatment obtained beyond that of Dr. HammesfahrÂs. She evaluated 242 patients, of which 221 improved, 21 had no improvement, and none were harmed.
Dr. Alex Gimon, court recognized expert in Neuropsychology and Brain injury, testified that he also was asked to evaluate all patients before and after 3 weeks of treatment. He had two separate studies of the same patients, most injured for over 1 year and most for over several years before starting treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, and most had marked improvement within the first 15 days of treatment. No patients were harmed. One study group was of 168 patients, and a second of 164 patients.
Other studies cited by Judge Kirkland included a published peer reviewed article reviewing Dr. HammesfahrÂs first 67 patients treated for stroke, most with no improvement in their impairments for over one year. Thus, according to Drs. Novella, Hoffman, Friend and Scales, these patients had permanent injuries. Yet, after undergoing treatment with Dr. Hammesfahr, over 80% showed major improvement with the ability to do new activities around the house and in life that did not exist before starting treatment. As Dr. Hammesfahr testified, ÂÂ Most of these patients continue to improve even after the first year of treatment, as healing occurs.Â
Dr. Hammesfahr adds, ÂAnything new needs to be investigated. Now we can get on with the business of treating and helping patients and families.Â
The State Department of Health is not the only one to investigate Dr. HammesfahrÂs new technique. Medicare investigated his techniques from 1997-2001. In November of 2001, Medicare issued a determination. They identified him as the first to treat patients previously felt to be untreatable with permanent neurological deficits. Further, they noted that most patients improved, and none was harmed. They stated that his treatment of these patients was Medically Necessary and Reasonable, and directed payment of federal funds for treatment. The U.S. Patent Office issued a patent, after a 5-year investigation, in the summer of 2001 for this new therapy, identifying its novelty and effectiveness. His work has been cited by many medical organizations, including been referenced on the Web site of the Karolinska Institutet, the home page of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. He has also lectured to physicians extensively, lectures used by physicians to obtain relicensure of their medical licenses.
ÂMedicine changes slowly, but I am glad that we can help patients get better,Â notes Dr. Hammesfahr.
Stroke is a 28 Billion-Dollar problem annually in the country, and the number 3 killer in the United States. 70% of those surviving a stroke are disabled. The additional costs of the treatment of Brain Injury, Learning Disabilities, Migraine, and related diseases are even greater. Thus, Dr. HammesfahrÂs work has major importance.
It appears that this controversial therapy is controversial no longer.
Dr. HammesfahrÂs credentials include in part:
Accepted to Medical School from High School, graduate of the Northwestern Honors Program in Medical Education
Trained in Neurology and Neurosurgery and Pain Management
Board Certified in Neurology and Pain Management
Appointed Federal Peer Reviewer for the Department of Education to evaluate grant funding for new techniques in medicine
Nobel Prize Nominee in Medicine, 1999 for his work in stroke and brain injury
For further information:
Contact Gina at 727-461-4464
Hammesfahr Neurological Institute
600 Druid Road East
Tampa Bay, Florida