Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease, and there is no cure. Then, a radical new theory appears to offer hope to patients. The medical community is lukewarm to the concept, yet the Internet is buzzing with positive stories and outcomes. What happens when the medical system and hope collide?
The effects of MS are cruel - fatigue, loss of muscle control and increasing debility. In 2009, there was suddenly a ray of hope, a treatment that showed signs of helping MS patients.
Dr. Paolo Zamboni
In northern Italy, research scientist Dr. Paolo Zamboni reported a correlation between blocked neck veins and MS. He pioneered a new treatment, called Liberation Therapy, unblocking the jugular veins to help with a condition he calls chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or CCSVI. The idea and treatment were a radical departure from accepted practice.
The small research paper was published online before it was published in print. Immediately, this research was circulating internationally via social media circles, creating a sudden explosion of attention. With an increasing number of patients electing to get the treatment in private clinics, video testimonies soon began to appear on the Internet showing miraculous improvements.
A patient seeks treatment in Costa Rica
A few Canadian clinics began to look into the treatment, but the Canadian medical establishment was reluctant to proceed with an unproven treatment that had not followed the proper research protocol. While some patients were torn between the lure of a cure and caution, others took matters into their own hands.
Many began travelling out of the country for the procedure paying for their own treatment – often without telling their physicians.
The medical community has developed protocols, processes and systems concerning research and patient care. These have survived politics, wars and the test of time. But, this time, the medical research system was challenged by two factors: hope, and the Internet.
MS Wars is a one hour documentary that delves into the science, controversy and human drama around Liberation Therapy. It is a tale that explores how the Internet has spurred a social network movement that is changing the doctor/patient relationship and the repercussions for physician and institutions.