In which I volunteer for medical research – hit me with the Botox Doc

I keep up with science-related research through press releases and general news which was pretty much my last job at The Open University communications department, and before that, a career as a journalist and now as stroke survivor blogger.

In the daily trawls I came upon this:

New research shows that repeated treatments of Botox (botulinum toxin type A) over one year after a stroke can improve muscle tone and reduce pain in the arms and hands, making it easier for patients to dress themselves.

I read it as: miracle cure will help you type better than hen-pecking at the keyboard mostly with your left hand because your right is stroke-affected.

So I’ve volunteered for medical research.

I emailed The Spasticity Service at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery in London. A few days later a nice woman named Luci responded with this:

Thank you for getting in touch with us and for your interest in our study, which is investigating the effects of botulinum toxin injections to the hand and arm. I appreciate that it took you a long time to write your email.  

I attach a copy of our patient information sheet which goes into quite a lot of detail about what would be involved if you were eligible to take part in this study. This is a fairly long document (10 pages or so), so if you would prefer a paper copy, let me know your address and I will post one out to you.  

Because this is a research study, we can only recruit a specific group of people. There are 2 main things that would help us to decide if you are eligible to take part: 

  1. You would need to be      able to hold a glass in your affected hand (you can put it in there with      help from your other hand), to lift it up and place it on the table      (without help from your other hand), and then to let it go. It doesn’t      matter if letting go is very slow or difficult, or if you need to drag      your hand off the glass, but you do need to be able to let go WITHOUT help      from your other hand.
  2. We are looking for      people with a specific kind of stiffness, also called spasticity, in the      hand and fingers. This is because the injections will only work on this      kind of stiffness.

I wrote back saying: I can do that; put me in the game coach. Then Luci replied:

From what you say in your email you may be potentially eligible.  

However, we are getting a lot of enquiries about our study from people who, like you, live quite a long way from London. You have raised concerns about this yourself in your email. We need to consider how practicable it would be for people who live a long way away to undertake all the travel that would be required to attend all the trial appointments. We have found that participants do get quite tired as the sessions can be fairly intense. This does not mean that you would not be able to take part, but once we have ascertained who may be potentially eligible, we need to discuss who would be most appropriate for our study, how far they would need to travel and whether we would be able to help with travel costs.  

Once we have done this I will get back in touch with you to let you know what the position is.

I’m waiting.


I worked with a guy named Neil at the OU who was super-fast at typing – it sounded like maybe 100 words a minute – at least I thought so.

It wasn’t until I walked past his desk that I noticed he only typed with his left hand, not because of any disability, he just preferred it that way.

Would that I could.

Great-grandmother De La Foret slapped my tendency to be left-hand out of me when I was two.


3 responses to “In which I volunteer for medical research – hit me with the Botox Doc

  1. Bloody burecracy! I like your straight clear writing style. As a matter of interest. I bust my wrist badly requiring pins,plate etc. I was at university,before the days of personal laptops and iPads..,, I became ambidextrous! My left and essay writing became better than my usual right handed scrawl! Xxxx

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