Rad­i­cal drug trial re­vives Walker’s foot­ball ca­reer

The Riverine Herald - - BOWLS - By Alex Mitchell

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

Pen­tosan poly­sul­fate sodium is com­monly used to treat os­teoarthri­tis in horses and dogs, but hadn’t been used to treat hu­man pain un­til 2015 when the exCarl­ton star teamed up with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Par­a­digm Bio­pharma.

And Walker, who was re­cently an­nounced as Echuca Foot­ball Club’s new play­ing-coach for 2018, couldn’t have been more pleased with the re­sults — the in­jec­tions tak­ing his pain lev­els right 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 be­ing a 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 150ml of fluid caus­ing the pain drained from his knee three times a week.

His play­ing ca­reer was im­pacted with just 23 games in his last two sea­sons at Carl­ton, 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

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 bat­tle. ’ a real

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 West-Pre­ston Lake­side.

A 10cm oedema has shrunk to just 1cm, 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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