To Do or Don’t: Liberation Therapy

There’s been a lot of talk over the past two years about a controversial new treatment being performed on Multiple Sclerosis patients in order to relieve their symptoms. Conceived by Dr. Paolo Zamboni, the procedure known as ‘liberation therapy’ consists of using balloon angioplasty to open narrowing or blocked jugular veins. The possible connection between these veins and MS was made evident during a preliminary study conducted by Zamboni. Of the MS patients studied 90% showed problems such as stenosis (narrowing veins) or defective valves.

Of the patients in the study who received the ‘liberation therapy’ 73% saw a decline in the severity and intensity of their symptoms. This included Zamboni’s own wife who also suffers from MS. Unlike drugs such as Copaxone liberation therapy is intended to be beneficial long term instead of needing to be repeated weekly or monthly and unless the veins become narrow again your symptoms should stay at a decreased amount.

 All of these results seem positive and promising. Despite this evidence there are many skeptics out there, and even though Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world (50,000) the surgery is still not available anywhere in the country. If Canadians wish to have the surgery they are forced to travel outside the country to places like Mexico and Poland, greatly increasing the cost. The travel distance on top of the cost of the procedure itself has prevented many who wish to have the surgery from being able to do so.

I’ve personally known two separate individuals who have had the surgery. One has seen a positive change since the procedure, while the other has not. This goes to show that not everyone responds to it but it also proves that some do.

I think that instead of setting money aside to fund trials that all of the provincial governments should help those who need the surgery pay for it and in turn study the effect it had on their symptoms afterward. That way the patient has a chance to get help while the government can get the access it needs to that information. Some provincial governments are taking a similar approach, though, it still seems like their attempts are harder than they have to be. The Alberta government for instance is going to study patients who have already had the procedure outside of Canada, while New Brunswick will help MS patients access treatment. Though, I think the best approach would be to combine both of those means into one.

Multiple Sclerosis is a terrible thing to suffer with -and it’s on the rise. I think that any step that could be beneficial to the people who’s lives it ruins is worth so much more than scientific evidence and the skepticism of big name researchers. They’re all worried about the scientific ‘facts’ while the real fact is; it’s helping some people. That, to me, is enough proof.

The name itself is looked upon negatively having some believe that calling it ‘liberation therapy’ provides a sense of false hope or high expectations. It’s true that the procedure has a long way to go before it is widely accepted. But already it’s making great strides towards that goal. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has noted the treatment as promising. Not only that but it’s got people all over the world talking. And that’s often a big step towards changing the opinions of those who don’t believe.

What are your opinions on ‘liberation therapy’ and Dr. Zamboni’s study? Do you know anyone who has had the treatment? Did they benefit from it and if so how? Leave your comments below.

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” -Sven Goran Eriksson

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