CHICAGO, June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Illustrating the power of an early diagnosis and effective treatment for the debilitating neurological disorder called cervical dystonia, Rem Murray, a center for the National Hockey League's (NHL) Edmonton Oilers (2006 Western Division Champion and Stanley Cup finalist) and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) launched today the "Reaching Your Goals" campaign, designed to raise awareness for cervical dystonia. Murray, who was forced to retire from the National Hockey League and collect disability insurance in 2004 at the peak of his career, has made an inspiring return to professional hockey this year after being diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder called cervical dystonia and "reaching his own goal" of playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Murray's story began at the end of 2003 when he started experiencing severe pain and stiffness in his neck which progressed to the point where his head was involuntarily forced to face the left, as if he was looking over his left shoulder. As a result, when Murray was on the ice during face-offs he could not direct his head toward the puck. His teammates, opponents, trainers and his family started to notice. In January 2004, the symptoms became so severe that they became unavoidable; he needed medical help. Murray was brought to the emergency room after a game in Toronto and by a sheer stroke of luck, one of the most renowned Canadian neurologists, Anthony Lang, M.D., happened to be on call that night. Many people with the disorder go for years without a diagnosis and effective treatment; however, Dr. Lang, a seasoned movement disorders specialist, instantly diagnosed Rem with cervical dystonia and immediately referred him to a neurologist for treatment in the U.S. where Rem was living and playing with the Nashville Predators at the time. Murray soon began treatment with injections of BOTOX(R) (Botulinum Toxin Type A) propelling him on the road to recovery. Cervical dystonia, which affects approximately 125,000 Americans and is the third most common movement disorder after Parkinson's disease and tremor, is characterized by involuntary spasms of the neck muscles that cause twisting, repetitive movements or abnormal postures of the head. The condition caused the muscles in Murray's neck to involuntarily contract so painfully that Murray could not perform daily tasks such as shaving, driving a car or reading to his children. Hockey was rendered impossible. "Cervical dystonia derailed my career and affected my family tremendously. At its worst, I couldn't even pour a bowl of cereal. I thought my career was over -- I filed for retirement and collected disability insurance," states Murray. Now 33, Murray is celebrating his recovery by heading the DMRF's "Reaching Your Goals" campaign, which is designed to generate awareness of cervical dystonia and the importance of seeing the right physician who can accurately diagnose the condition and provide effective treatment. The "Reaching Your Goals" campaign, on the heels of Dystonia Awareness Week (June 4-10), aims to bring attention to those who suffer from cervical dystonia as some people may go for more than 5 years and visit with 15 physicians before receiving the right diagnosis and effective treatment. "I was extremely fortunate," Murray states, "I would hate to think that if the right physician was not on call that night in the ER, I would still be in pain and suffering with this condition. This is why I am passionate about raising awareness of cervical dystonia and the importance of seeing the right physician to receive a quick and accurate diagnosis and effective treatment." Along with a quick and accurate diagnosis, Murray credits his comeback to ongoing BOTOX(R) treatments as well as rigorous physical therapy regimen and sessions with an osteopath. BOTOX(R) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cervical dystonia in 2000 and temporarily relaxes the overly contracted muscles in the neck. "Dystonia is a relatively unknown neurological condition with far-reaching impact on patients. Beyond the often dramatic physical effects, there are social and emotional ramifications that impact the livelihood and passions of patients suffering with this disorder," said Dr. John J. Wald, a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a neurologist at the Foote Memorial Hospital in Jackson, MI, as well as Rem's current treating physician. "There is no cure for cervical dystonia; however, there is help but you need to see a movement disorder specialist to receive an accurate diagnosis like Rem did." About Rem Murray Rem Murray has been in the National Hockey League (NHL) for more than eight years, playing on the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and the Nashville Predators. Rem was diagnosed with cervical dystonia in January 2004 while on the Predators and subsequently retired. Following diagnosis and treatment with BOTOX(R) he worked his way back up the ranks in the American Hockey League on the Houston Aeros before signing onto the Oilers in March 2006. Rem has recently been nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey (to be announced June 22 at the NHL Awards). About the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Founded in 1976 by Samuel and Frances Belzberg, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is dedicated to advancing research, promoting awareness and education, and supporting the needs and well being of all persons affected with dystonia and their families. With overall membership of nearly 32,000 people, the Foundation is comprised of individuals living with all forms of dystonia, their friends and families, and healthcare professionals and researchers. To find out more information about cervical dystonia, please visit the DMRF at http://www.dystonia-foundation.org. The "Reaching Your Goals" campaign is funded by Allergan, Inc.
SOURCE Dystonia Medical Research Foundation