BOCA RATON, FL - Last night we brought you the story of Linda Lumbra, a Maine teacher who had to give up the career she was so passionate about after suffering a violent seizure that left her weak and barely able to speak.
Tonight, we're learning more about that breakthrough treatment, developed by Doctor Edward Tobinick of the Institute of Neurological Recovery.
Just minutes before Linda's treatment, she had trouble counting to ten. She had been living like this for three years.
Now, it's no problem for Linda to count to ten. It's all thanks to a single injection of a drug called Etanercept.
It's FDA approved to treat some autoimmune diseases like arthritis. You may recognize it from a commercial for ENBREL featuring pro golfer, Phil Mickelson.
But how it was used on Linda, is not FDA approved. It's being used in an "off label use."
Since 2010 Dr. Tobinick has been using it to help hundreds of stroke and traumatic brain injury patients.
"The stoke treatment evolved naturally from our use of this technique and this medicine for treating patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of brain dysfunction," says Dr. Tobinick.
It blocks tumor necrosis factor, or TNF. It's a chemical produced by the body to help with the healing process after suffering some sort of brain trauma.
"When the concentration of TNF becomes elevated, becomes too high, then brain function is perturbed, it's disturbed. There's brain dysfunction."
By applying the TNF blocker, Dr. Tobinick says he's demonstrated that TNF is actually not good for the healing process.
Here's how it works. It's injected into the back of the neck. The medicine is then absorbed by an interconnected system of veins in the spine and Brain called the cerebrospinal venous system. The patient is then tilted backwards, allowing the medicine to travel into the brain.
"Some patients stay better for months. Some patients, it wears off rather quickly but the medication can be repeated, if necessary."
It is still an experimental treatment at this point, but it's already made an amazing impact on people like Linda Lumbra.