12/19/2014 07:56 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST

Gordie Howe's Stem Cell Treatment Brings 'Miraculous' Results

Dave Sandford via Getty Images
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 27: Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe signs autographs while attending the NHL Fan Fair as part of the 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend at Ottawa Convention Centre on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

DETROIT - Gordie Howe's family says the hockey great has made a dramatic improvement after he participated in a stem cell clinical trial.

The 86-year-old Howe had a serious stroke in late October, but in a statement released through the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, his family said his physical therapists have been "astonished" by his progress.

Executives from Stemedica Cell Technologies contacted the family and facilitated Howe's participation in the clinical trial. He had a two-day, non-surgical treatment earlier this month.

"The treatment included neural stem cells injected into the spinal canal on Day 1 and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on Day 2," the family said. "His response was truly miraculous. At the end of Day 1 he was walking with minimal effort for the first time since his stroke. By Day 2 he was conversing comfortably with family and staff at the clinic."

The family says Howe has been able to help out with daily household chores, and when tested, his ability to name items has gone from less than 25 per cent before the treatment to 85 per cent.

"Although his short-term memory, strength, endurance and co-ordination have plenty of room for improvement, we are hopeful that he will continue to improve in the months to come," the family said. "As a family, we are thrilled that dad's quality of life has greatly improved, and his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations."


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