Regenerative medicine, especially stem cell treatments, give patients an opportunity to recover from injuries that were previously considered permanent. There are common stem cell procedures that can repair knee, hip, spine, and shoulder pains. These are well-researched and readily available for anyone who qualifies for the treatments.
However, researchers are still investigating the question of whether or not stem cells can improve a patient’s health after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or from a stroke. These are serious, potentially life-changing questions that patients need answered so they can make informed decisions about the stem cell procedures available to them.
Stem cell therapy may very well become a valuable treatment option for patients who have brain damage. Researchers at Stanford wanted to see what effects stem cells would have when injected into a stroke patient’s brain. This study consisted of 18 patients and was designed primarily to look at the safety of such procedure, not its effectiveness. However, they were more than just surprised by what they saw. The researchers were absolutely stunned by the amount of motor functions the patient’s gained after the stem cell procedure was performed. This study has created a significant amount of attention in the neuroscience community due to the fact that the results contradict a core belief about brain damage. The consensus, up until now, has been that brain damage is permanent and irreversible. Scientists will need to reassess prior assumptions about the human brain in light of these results.
There have to be more studies conducted in order for multiple researchers and doctors to confirm that stem cell procedures can perform such miracle. The potential is exciting! If researchers find that stem cells can consistently create these kind of results, then it gives medical science a strong push to explore regenerative medicine’s capacity to repair a patient’s brain after it has suffered from other brain diseases. Stem cell treatment options will dramatically increase their potential if a medical breakthrough allowed them to treat or cure a patient who suffered from Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases.
The study from Stanford included patients who suffered from brain damage for more than six months and others who had strokes and were significantly impaired in moving their arms or legs. There were a few patients that had suffered from a stroke three to five years before the experimental treatment. The majority of these patients were left in terrible conditions, which led the researchers to believe that it might be possible for the stem cells to produce some kind of improvement.
The procedure itself was fairly straightforward. The surgeon’s strategy was to drill holes into the study’s participants’ skull and injecting stem cells around the areas damaged by the stroke. The stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow of adult donors. The surgeries were performed well, the patients were conscious throughout the procedure, and they were able to go home the same day. A few patients experienced minor adverse effects such as temporary headaches, nausea and vomiting. The volunteers were tested one month, six and 12 months after they had surgery. The doctors used brain imaging and several standard scales that look at vision, motor ability, and other aspects of daily functioning.
Gary Steinberg, the study’s lead author and chair of neurosurgery at Stanford didn’t want to oversell the results from the study. Although he couldn’t ignore the fact that seven out of 18 patients experienced significant improvement in their abilities following treatment. Steinberg went on to mention that the patient’s recoveries weren’t just minimal. They were life changing. One 71-year-old patient no longer needed his wheelchair and was able to walk again. Another patient, age 39, who was two years post-stroke had difficulties walking and talking. She was embarrassed of marrying her boyfriend because she wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle like other people can. After treatment, she is walking and talking better than before and is married and pregnant.
Others, such as Sean Savitz, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas, have been encouraged by this study. He said there are more studies that need to be done in order to confirm the results and figure out the mechanism for the reaction. Nicholas Boulis, a neurosurgeon and researcher at Emory University, commented that the study appears to support the idea that there may be latent pathways in the brain that can be reactivated. This sort of theory has been working its way to the surface over the past few years.
Stanford’s study about stem cell treatment has proven a long belief about brain damage wrong, while also significantly changing the lives of others. Just when some of these patients thought there was no chance of curing their brain damages, the stem cell treatment gave them a reason to think otherwise.
The medical community still has many steps it needs to take before any commercially available treatments can be made based on this research. However, there are other types of stem cell treatments available today. Click this link for information on what conditions can be treated with stem cells today.
This Article originally appeared on stemcellorthopedicinstituteoftexas.com