New coach no longer strug­gling to move

Shepparton News - - SPORT - By Alex Mitchell

A po­ten­tial new rem­edy for chronic knee pain has changed the life of new Echuca coach and for­mer AFL foot­baller An­drew Walker af­ter the star took part in ini­tial tri­als for an ex­ist­ing drug.

Pen­tosan poly­sul­fate sodium is used to treat os­teoarthri­tis in horses and dogs, but had not been used to treat hu­man pain un­til 2015 when the for­mer Carl­ton star teamed up with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Par­a­digm Bio­pharma.

And Walker, who was re­cently an­nounced as the Mur­ray Bombers’ new play­ing-coach for 2018, could not have been more pleased with the re­sults — the in­jec­tions tak­ing his pain lev­els down.

‘‘It was amaz­ing. I first tri­alled it at the end of 2015 when my knee was at its worst,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d ex­hausted all of my op­tions and it was an ab­so­lute night­mare.

‘‘It’s a Ger­man drug so it needed TGA ap­proval and WADA ap­proval sports­man.

‘‘That was a four to five­month process to get that ticked off, but I’m re­ally thank­ful I went through with it.’’

Walker strug­gled through­out his AFL ca­reer with os­teoarthri­tis; he had five dif­fer­ent surg­eries on his knee, with 150 ml of fluid caus­ing the pain drained from his knee three times a week.

His ca­reer was im­pacted, play­ing just 23 games in his fi­nal two sea­sons at Carl­ton, be­ing a but he found ev­ery­day tasks even more dif­fi­cult.

‘‘(The os­teoarthri­tis was re­ally bad) prob­a­bly the last three years of my AFL ca­reer,’’ Walker said.

‘‘I had a re­ally good year in 2013, but from them on it was an ab­so­lute bat­tle.

‘‘Things that used to be quite easy like walk­ing from bed to the kitchen, walk­ing to get the paper or a cof­fee — all those sim­ple things you’d take for granted were a real bat­tle.

‘‘Every step I’d take, you’d be won­der­ing what sort of pain you were go­ing to feel.

‘‘Weekly I was get­ting my knee drained three times, Tues­day, Thurs­day and game day.

‘‘By the end it was so nor­mal, it was part of my prepa­ra­tion to get there three hours early, and it just wears on you.’’

Walker’s pain level has dropped from ‘‘10 out of 10’’ to a ‘‘two or three’’, enough to see him play 15 games this year with North­ern Foot­ball League side WestPre­ston Lake­side.

A 10 cm oedema has shrunk to just 1 cm, his knee not drained in more than 12 months.

And clearly the star has still got it, named 10 times in his side’s best.

Walker said Pen­tosan had the po­ten­tial not just to lengthen AFL ca­reers, but to help the ev­ery­day punter.

‘‘If it be­comes read­ily avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic it would def­i­nitely help clear up some pain,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m ex­tremely ac­tive and do­ing all the things I love again.’’

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