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Fibromyalgia Study Draws Patient Interest

  [ 41 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • March 11, 2002

Flint - One thousand phone calls, several e-mails and 1,300 Web site hits later, Jeff Hargrove is discovering his clinical trial on fibromyalgia hasn't just piqued the interest of fibromyalgia patients. Members of the medical community who treat fibromyalgia sufferers also are making inquiries.

Hargrove is heading a clinical trial to study a new technique to treat the disease. He is working on the study with the McLaren Regional Medical Center and researchers from Washington, D.C.

Symptoms of the disease, which is difficult to diagnose and treat, are body pain, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness and cognitive dysfunction.

Dr. Abd Alghanem, president of the Genesee County Medical Society, wants to publish articles about the study in his organization's monthly newsletter to keep area physicians informed.

"In the Flint area we don't have medical centers like Wayne State University or the University of Michigan, so we are proud to have someone in our community doing this type of study," Alghanem said. "I want to be well-informed about it. There has been talk about this among my friends and colleagues."

Hargrove's work has hit the radar of researchers as far away as Maryland, at Johns Hopkins University. A researcher there wants to know if Hargrove can expand his study to screen for cases that involve multiple chemical sensitivities - individuals who have fibromyalgia symptoms related to oversensitivity to chemicals found in perfume and household cleaners.

Dr. Mark Grenquist, a physician at Ingham Medical Center in Lansing studying chronic fatigue, wants to compare notes with Hargrove to see how often patients with chronic fatigue are diagnosed with fibromyalgia and vice versa.

"I got an e-mail the other day from a doctor in West Branch. She wanted to know if there was anything we needed support on," Hargrove said. "She wanted to know if we could do a physicians forum similar to the one we did for patients (in January)."

An estimated 4 percent of the general population is affected by fibromyalgia.

"We contacted Hargrove because many people with fibromyalgia have difficulty traveling back and forth, and it can get rather costly," said Robert Furtado, of the Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Bad Axe. "I was asking if there were any alternatives."

Furtado said the center, which has offices in Lapeer and other areas, operates support groups for people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Hargrove's study will treat patients for 11 weeks, twice a week for roughly 30 minutes, with low-level electrical pulses. Applications sent in by fibromyalgia patients will be used to select 160 people for the study.

For Dianne Gagner of Flint, being selected would be akin to winning the lottery.

"I know that I fit into the criteria set up by the American College of Rheumatology for I have been seeing Dr. Mulkey here in Flint for the past 18 years for this. I do believe I could be an asset to his studies for I am a retired medical assistant and have been doing my own studies on this for this whole time."

Valerie Sinclair drove from Waterford to put in an application, even though she knows participating in the study does not mean she'll be cured.

"You have to keep a certain attitude about this study," she said. "People think it's going to be a magic pill, but it's not. It's not a cure right now, it's a study that needs to be done so we can take the next step to a cure. But most people are so desperate, they'll do anything."

The study now has its own Web site.

"We still would love to get people interested in this project, to participate in the study," Hargrove said. "We've received an awful lot of applications, but I want as many as I can get."

Details are available at (810) 762-9791 or the Web sites,

(c) 2002 Flint Journal

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