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Hockey great Gordie Howe watches an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on November 14, 2013. his family says he has made a “miraculous” improvement after he participated in a stem cell clinical trial.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Gordie Howe's family says the hockey great has made a "miraculous" 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 which included the injection of neural stem cells into the spinal canal and intravenous infusion of mesenchymal stem cells.

For the first time since the stroke, Howe has been able to walk with minimal effort and converse comfortably with family.