I helped my dad try a variety of experimental therapies to alleviate severe post-stroke health issues. After several years without relief, I don’t think there’s a problem with trying less conventional methods as long as they aren’t harmful and you stay reasonable about them. I kept diaries of his experiences. I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert on these therapies or stroke. However, I believe it might be helpful for some people to read about my dad’s experiences.
Ketamine is a drug that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for its potential to help treat depression and anxiety. Unlike some other promising drugs (such as MDMA and psilocybin) ketamine can be legally administered in the United States because it is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an anesthetic. Ketamine therapy should only be done with a licensed medical professional.
Virtual Reality (VR) Mirror Therapy
Mirror therapy is normally done with people who have amputated limbs rather than paralysis, but I hoped it might help my dad too. This therapy tries to trick part of a patient’s brain into thinking that his missing limbs are functional. This is usually done by arranging mirrors so that the patient’s reflection shows his actual working limbs on the amputated side of his body. By seeing his “missing limbs” moving normally in the mirror, part of the patient’s brain hopefully decides that pain signals are no longer needed. With virtual reality (VR), mirror therapy can be done without the burden of a large arrangement of physical mirrors. When a patient puts on VR goggles and headphones, he can see his “reflection” (which is an artificial virtual reflection) in a virtual mirror. When he raises his actual functional arm in the physical world, both arms in the virtual mirror reflection are raised.
Psilocybin is another drug that has gotten attention in recent years for its potential to help relieve depression and anxiety (e.g. studies at Johns Hopkins University). Some of this attention has focused on “microdoses,” which are doses usually too small to have the stronger psychedelic effects sometimes associated with the drug.
Marijuana edibles were an effective and affordable option for relieving many of my dad’s post-stroke psychological issues. He used edibles instead of inhaled marijuana because he had quit smoking after his stroke.