Two P.E.I. women say their lives have changed for the better since undergoing unproven treatments in Europe for symptoms of their multiple sclerosis.
Claire Bungay of Stratford underwent a procedure in Poland to clear blockages in her veins, while York resident Neva Tremere had her procedure in Bulgaria.
"I noticed right away I could walk better," Bungay said. "I could lift my right leg over my left leg without having to haul it over with my hand. That was huge."
The 47-year-old mother of three said the $15,000 she spent on the trip was worth it.
The procedures are based on research released in 2009 by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni, who reported a link between MS and poor blood drainage, which leads to nerve tissue damage.
The treatments are not yet available in Canada. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada says the study is worthy of interest and optimism, but warns that therapeutic use of stents or balloons to widen veins needs much wider investigation than Zamboni's research, which involved 65 people.
Both P.E.I. women travelled to Europe earlier this month and said the procedure has worked for them, increasing their mobility and reducing the number of muscle spasms. More than 20 Canadians have gone overseas for the therapy.
Tremere said she used to average a couple painful leg spasms a day, each lasting hours. Now she sometimes has spasm-free days, and when they happen they don't hurt as much. It's the best she's felt in five or six years, she said.
"If it only lasts six months to a year, that's six months to a year that you don't have right now," Tremere said. "If you have angioplasty to your heart, it could only last six months to a year and you would get it done again. We should be able to do that here in Canada and not have to travel to these countries that are far away."