Hockey legend Howe shows progress after stem cell treatment

AFP
(L-R) Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe poses with Bradley Galbraith of Ottawa during the NHL Fan Fair at the Ottawa Convention Centre on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (AFP Photo/Bruce Bennett)

(L-R) Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe poses with Bradley Galbraith of Ottawa during the NHL Fan Fair at the Ottawa Convention Centre on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

(L-R) Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe poses with Bradley Galbraith of Ottawa during the NHL Fan Fair at the Ottawa Convention Centre on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (AFP Photo/Bruce Bennett)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe has made an "astonishing" recovery after receiving stem cell treatment earlier this month from a Mexico-based medical firm, the Howe family said.

The 86-year-old Hall of Famer, who suffers from severe dementia, has gone from being bedridden in a semi-comatose state to walking on his own and doing daily chores as he "shuffles" around his daughter's Texas home, the family said in a statement.

"We are thrilled that Dad's quality of life has greatly improved, and his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations," the family wrote.

Howe underwent two days of a stem cell clinical trial from Tijuana-based firm Novastem. Two days after the start of treatment Howe was talking to the nurses, the family said.

After three days he left the hospital and walked on his own to the airplane, and after five days he was "taking part in helping out with household chores."

The family said his treatment included injecting neural stem cells into the spinal canal.

"His response was truly miraculous. His short-term memory, strength, endurance and coordination have plenty of room for improvement. We are hopeful that he will continue to improve in the months to come."

Howe suffered a serious stroke on October 26 and because of his deteriorating condition he had to be hospitalized at the beginning of December.

Confined to his bed and unable to speak or communicate, Howe had to rely on the nurses and family to feed him. Doctors said at one point he was "unresponsive" for 30 minutes.

Howe, who is nicknamed Mr Hockey, played 26 seasons in the National Hockey League. The 23-time all-star is considered one of the greatest players of all-time and by the time he retired he held most of the league's scoring records until they were broken by Wayne Gretzky.

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