Hopes radical treatment will heal brain damage

Toowoomba mum Coralie Graham will fly to Los Angeles with her son Joel Shepherd so he can undergo reverse stroke treatment.
Toowoomba mum Coralie Graham will fly to Los Angeles with her son Joel Shepherd so he can undergo reverse stroke treatment.

A TOOWOOMBA family will soon know if a revolutionary treatment is going to lift the fog shrouding 26-year-old Joel Shepherd's mind.

His sister Susan Graham-Ryan will fly with Mr Shepherd, their mum Coralie Graham, brother Kris and one of Mr Shepherd's carers to Los Angeles on Sunday.

On Monday, Mr Shepherd is due to undergo reverse stroke treatment, which will hopefully reduce inflammation caused by a brain injury he acquired when he was three-and-a-half years old.

Funding the perispinal etanercept treatment has been a huge undertaking.


"Mum had to get a big remortgage of the house to cover the cost of it," Mrs Graham-Ryan said.

But the burden has been eased by community members, some complete strangers, who have generously donated money to help fund the treatment.

"It has just been amazing and overwhelming at the same time," Mrs Graham-Ryan said.

A drug used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis will be injected into a large blood vessel at the base of Mr Shepherd's neck.

He will then be suspended upside down to ensure the drug stays in the area it is intended to repair.

His family have been practising tipping him upside down to hopefully make it easier on him during the treatment proper.

Mrs Graham-Ryan said her brother seemed to understand what his treatment would involve.

"He gets it and I think he is pretty excited about it.

"For the last month or so he has been asking 'is today the day'."

She was grateful for the help received from the community.

"I want to say a huge thanks to the community from Toowoomba and surrounding as well for all of the fundraising."

For updates on Mr Shepherd's journey or information on how to donate visit

Topics:  brain injury editors picks treatment

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