Mike O’Reilly underwent Liberation treatment for his MS five years ago and has declared the procedure a success.
A treatment then newly approved in the U.S. offered the possibility of some relief — $13,000 and a plane ticket later, O’Reilly was undergoing the controversial Liberation treatment in California.
The treatment, developed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni, was meant to increase blood flow to the brain and other parts to the body — Zamboni’s theory being that narrowing veins in the neck compromise blood flow to the brain, leading to symptoms of MS.
Not long after returning to Canada, O’Reilly declared the treatment a success, noting it allowed him to resume working out and running. So far, that hasn’t changed.
For the most part, there aren’t any signs of his MS, but O’Reilly said he’s not completely symptom-free.
“I still notice I have it,” he said. “My balance, that’s the hardest part. The odd time, it’s not very often, but every once in a while, it looks like I’ve just started to teeter a bit and I’ll catch myself.”
It’s not clear how long-lasting the effects of the treatment are, due to the number of questions still surrounding Zamboni’s science.
A UBC study in 2013 showed narrowing neck veins are just as common in the general population as in people with MS, calling into question some of the original theory behind the treatment.
Research into the treatment has continued, however.
Since his trip to the Golden State, O’Reilly has stayed in the news for other reasons.
Last year, he rappelled down the Plainsman Building downtown to raise money for the MS Society and followed that with an unsuccessful run for Kamloops city council.
While O’Reilly didn’t gain a seat in chambers, running a coffee shop just a few blocks from city hall has allowed him to get a taste of the experience.
“I get to hear a lot of people’s opinions and views on things all day long,” O’Reilly said.
“Everyone’s got their own ideas about things.”