BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA) -- Victims of traumatic brain injury, stroke, and even repeated concussion can have lasting symptoms even after traditional treatments and rehabilitation. These symptoms include problems with speech, cognition, muscle function, and memory loss.
Dr. Bert Spilker of Relox Medical is a local scientist who believes his fledgling company has a solution. Dr. Spilker says, "This is the first time ever that a product has been found to help patients who had a chronic stroke or chronic TBI (traumatic brain injury); they've recovered already but are still left with problems."
The main elements of this infusion therapy incorporate magnesium and oxygen. Magnesium is infused through an IV into the patient's bloodstream. The blood vessels expand to allow more oxygen to reach the brain. As the magnesium enters the body, the patient also breathes extra O2 through a mask.
Dr. Spilker says, "When you have a stroke (or) TBI, some of the cells in the brains actually die, and those cells are never brought back to life."
But around the dead cells are injured ones with hampered function, which CAN be helped.
Extra oxygen produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which in turn repairs the brain cells that were damaged, but not completely destroyed.
Dr. Spilker says, "All of the energy from the ATP goes through the enlarged blood vessels, then rejuvenates, reactivates and basically normalizes those cells in the panumbra area."
This treatment has been tested in two clinical trials with more than 80 patients including Hillary Werth, who was a member of the US bobsled team before several accidents. Werth says, "People don't know that when you have head trauma, your emotional status changes, I would cry when I didn't know what to do."
Werth suffered multiple concussions while competing this past year. She says, "I took two hard hits and got back on the World Cup in the second half, and was doing just fine and I hit my head again in Canada."
She suffered from chronic migraines, dizziness and fatigue that wouldn't go away.
She participated in the clinical trials for this new magnesium-based treatment, she says it is helping her shake free of those lingering symptoms and return to normal.
Werth says, "Prior to getting all of these injections, I've had migraines, and (now) I'm symptom-free since I started a couple of weeks ago. I'm feeling back to my normal self a little bit. I've been taking the brain-train tests for levels of concentration, speed, and quickness and my test levels have gotten higher."
Relox Medical is looking for a pharmaceutical partner to launch phase 3 studies of the treatment. They hope to get it approved and available to patients soon.