Hope for brain research

  • Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dave Emch

Photos

On Feb. 13, 2012, the jeep of one of my dear friends (Dr. R. Lester “Les” Neville, age 47) was struck head on by a vehicle on his way home from work. He was life-flighted into the Medical University of South Carolina's Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. He had numerous broken bones, severe brain swelling and was in a coma. Pneumonia set in and at one point we were planning his funeral.

During my nightly visits to the ICU, I connected with Dr. Robert “Rusty” Turner, who was a neurology doctor at MUSC. He recommended I read a couple of books on a new treatment technique for brain malfunctions that he was researching. Meanwhile, Les came out of his coma, but suffered severe short term memory loss and as a result was moved to a nursing home. I returned and spoke with Rusty at great length, and being convinced, I was willing to start a fund-raising effort immediately. Well, it has taken the last year and a half for the pieces to fall into place, but I am embarking on this venture now.

Dr. Turner is opening the first clinic and research facility (Network Neurology) of its type in Charleston later this month. Few patients have enough cash to pay for treatments; most of us rely on insurance of some sort. In order for this treatment to be accepted by insurance companies there must be full clinical studies done by an unbiased institution that is above reproach.

With MUSC's reputation as one of the top neurology institutions in the world, case studies designed and executed by their research facility will be of the quality that will show insurance companies the tremendous savings this represents. In most cases full treatment costs less than the cost of a year's worth of medications for a patient – about $6,000 per year on average. (Roughly 2.5 Billion is spent on anti-seizure medications for epilepsy alone each year in the United States.) And while there has never been a cure for epilepsy, anecdotal data so far shows a cure rate of better than 75 percent in the epilepsy arena alone.

Amazingly, the powerful drugs anti-seizure often become toxic as the brain heals under this treatment regimen (hence, no support or research monies from big pharma – we are on our own on this one.) So funds are needed to push the clinical trials through and help support and expand the research clinic here in Charleston.

Thus, I am committing the next three years to raising both awareness and funds for this exciting development. I am circling the perimeter of the United States not once – but twice. The first time I am doing it over the span of two years, capturing the essence of America in articles and photographs. As of this writing, I have been on road for six weeks and have most of the bugs of life on the road worked out, and some 500 folks are following the blogs already.

The second trip will be by bicycle, and if we can build the audience to 150,000 who are willing to contribute just $10 per month, we can raise the $18 million needed. Those of you who read the Moultrie News have seen many of my photographs and articles – and I hope you will join me on this journey as I share many more. To read the daily meditations and the two weekly articles, simply log on to www.CaptureAmerica.blogspot.com and enter your email address where indicated. To follow the journey daily, just log on to www.CaptureAmericaJournal.blogspot.com. We stand at the dawn of a new age in medical treatment for illnesses of the brain. Les and millions of others with neurological issues finally have some hope (Les will be one of the clinic's first patients.) Join me – together we can make a difference as here and now in the beginning of this century we can gain the traction to make the third millennium the “millennium of the mind.”

David Emch is a Mount Pleasant writer and photographer. As he travels around the country, The Moultrie News will be carrying a weekly online article written by him under the headliner “People Making a Difference.” You can view his photographs, read his articles and contribute to this effort at www.CaptueAmerica.blogspot.com or contact him at CaptureAmerica1@gmail.com.

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