Chase gets injection that enhances stroke patients' outcome


Chase Aeschliman (far right) recently visited the Institute for Neurological Recovery in Boca Raton, Fla., to receive an injection of Enbrel. Enbrel is a FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis that Dr. Edward Tobinick is using to treat stroke survivors. The drug should help with inflammation in the brain caused by the stroke. Chase’s family, (l-r) Kenny, Lincoln, Brock, and Laine, all joined him in Florida for the procedure. Submitted Photos


Chase gets injection that enhances stroke patients' outcome



By Chris Deback





Laine and Kenny Aeschliman of Wadena made their 13-year-old son, Chase, one promise after he suffered a stroke in August 2015: No matter the cost, no matter the odds, the couple would do whatever they could to help him recover. 

Chase has made a remarkable recovery in the two years and eight months since his accident. With the support of his family and friends since he left the rehabilitation center On With Life in Ankeny, the young boy has grown to be over 6 feet tall and has seen incredible improvements in his movement and speech. 

“I think his speech is always continuing to grow,” said Laine. “It isn’t something you see day to day; it is slow progress, but there is still progress. He has made so much progress that he isn’t doing speech therapy anymore.”

While Chase slowly continues to improve day by day, that hasn’t stopped his parents from keeping an open mind about new treatments they have come across. It was that persistence that led Laine to discover a new treatment for stroke patients through a stroke survivor support group on Facebook. 

She found a “60 Minutes” story on Dr. Edward Tobinick of the Institute of Neurological Recovery in Boca Raton, Fla., who is using the drug Enbrel to improve outcomes for stroke patients. Enbrel is an anti-inflammatory drug that is FDA-approved for treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Tobinick has patented its use for stroke patients; however, it hasn’t received FDA approval, so the procedure remains experimental. 

“I uploaded the story to my mom and Kenny’s mom and asked them if we should do it,” Laine noted. “Both of them said, ‘Yes, go for it! This is awesome!’ I talked to Kenny, and he was ready to do it, too.”

“Enbrel helps with inflammation, and after a brain injury you have inflammation around [the damaged area],” she continued. “People say that after they had [the treatment], it helped clear up their brain. [They have a] little easier thought processing and just feel better.”

After discussing the treatment with family members, the Aeschlimans had a phone consultation with one of Dr. Tobinick’s nurse practitioners to determine if Chase was a candidate for the treatment and to go over potential side effects. Once it was discovered that Chase was indeed a candidate for the treatment, the family booked an appointment for Tuesday, April 24.

“We thought, ‘What is there to lose?’” Laine related. 

Chase chimed in, “Money,” to which his mom responded, “It is worth it.” 

The family flew to Florida on Sunday, April 22, and settled into the home they rented for five days. After resting on Monday, the family accompanied Chase to his appointment at the Institute for Neurological Recovery. 

A number of tests were administered before the eighth-grader would receive the injection. He was asked to read off words from a word list that got progressively harder with two- to three-syllable words. He was also shown a picture and given one minute to describe the picture to the best of his ability. 

“The third three-syllable word on the word list that he couldn’t say before the drug was ‘commitment,’” Laine recalled. “It was just too hard, and those words are really hard for him.”

After the battery of test the drug was injected into the back of Chase’s neck. He then laid back so that it would flow into his brain. Chase and his parents noted an almost immediate improvement, especially when he was readministered the tests he took before the procedure. 

“After the drug was administered, they did the same word list, and he just rambled off ‘commitment’ like it was just really easy,” Laine said with a wide smile. “He didn’t have to try and get it, he just got it. After that injection, with that same picture, he picked up more in-depth detail and was able to explain it better. It was really amazing. You could just tell his brain cleared up a little bit and made it easier for him. 

“Word-finding is still really hard because that was the part of the brain that was damaged for him,” she added. “They asked him to say a bunch of words that start with the letter F, and it was still hard after the injection.”

While the drug has mainly shown improvement in cognitive function, the doctor did note that it has also been known to help improve some of the fine motor skills lost after a stroke. 

“The doctor has said that some stroke survivors have gotten rid of their ankle-foot orthosis (AFO),” she explained. “It’s the brace that he has to wear because after having a stroke, from your ankle and wrist down, it is hard to get those fine motor skills back. He can’t wiggle his toes, but he can do a little bit with his ankle. The doctor said that some people do regain some of that movement, so we are hoping that still might happen.” 

After Chase’s procedure, the Wadena family enjoyed some quality time together by visiting the beach and playing in the pool of their rented vacation home before flying back to Iowa on Friday, April 27. 

Laine noted that a lot of patients receive multiple injections, and the doctor has advised that the family return in September for a second treatment. Because the drug isn’t FDA-approved to treat stroke patients, insurance doesn’t cover the procedure. The Aeschlimans are paying for the treatment with money that was raised to cover Chase’s medical costs. 

The couple want to once again thank the community for all its love and support. It is that support that helps make this procedure possible for Chase. 





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