This is the second of our three-part series about emerging medical advancements that may aid recovery for those who have incurred personal injuries. Stem cells have the capability of continuously regenerating and developing into other types of cells that are found within the body. They are able to divide and repair tissues within the bodies of humans and animals. Stem cells are also able to be created in laboratories. Stem cell therapy, which is a form of regenerative medicine, is being increasingly experimented with. Although this treatment has shown some promise, there are lingering safety and ethical questions. Classifications include embryonic (ESC), fetal (FSC), and adult (ASC) cells. Treatment has shown to improve injuries such as paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal injuries, and others.
Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial: TBI
TBI represents over 30% of injury-related fatalities in the U.S. and few effective recovery options exist. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center published results of stem cell therapy for TBI using cells from the patients themselves. They found the therapy reduces inflammatory reactions caused by trauma and assists with maintaining brain tissue, in addition to reassuring the treatment's safety.
Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial: Spinal Cord Injury
Several researchers, including those affiliated with the Department of Orthopedics at Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, reported some findings regarding stem cell therapy administered to patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI). These injuries are likely to be caused by accidents that result in traumatic impacts, such as car accidents. The goals were to see the potential for creating structural and neurological recovery capable of increasing function. They found that through the regeneration of cells, patients saw improved neurological function in many spine injury cases. Their studies indicated that it is feasible for cell transplantation to stimulate spinal tissue that is damaged in these types of injuries.
Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial: Shoulder Injury
Two orthopedic surgeons from the Sioux Falls and Fargo Regional Medical Centers of Sanford Health have joined scientists to engage in an inaugural study that is currently underway. This FDA-approved trial tests for potential recovery of a shoulder injury through therapy using a patient's own adult adipose (fat-derived) stem cells that were obtained from the abdominal area. The patient had tears in his rotor cuff and initial findings have been positive. They believe the treatment will accelerate healing and tissue regeneration; however, the full report of findings is still several months away.
Usage in Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine is optimistic that stem cell therapy can accelerate recovery, reduce pain, and increase key function in many types of sports-related injuries. They have seen evidence of progress in patients struggling with osteoarthritis following significant surgical knee operations. Much of the focus has been on the usage of mesenchymal stem cells that are sourced from either fat cells or bone marrow. The potential exists for achieving success in a variety of musculoskeletal applications and perhaps ACL injuries. Despite significant progress, they still encourage being cautious when considering the treatments, which are still experimental. This treatment is not widely covered by insurance carriers and is likely to remain quite costly until more progress is made.
Several Types of Stem Cells
- Neural stem cells (NSC): These originate from the central nervous system and have shown to be effective in supporting substrates and regenerating axons. The ability to grow axons is viewed as critical to allow the body to conduct remyelination, a process that is executed efficiently in those with a strong central nervous system.
- Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC): Studies have indicated that they are capable of creating cells that compose bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscle. MSCs derived from bone marrow are among the most commonly tested. MSCs are largely the focus of those testing and experimenting within the realm of sports medicine.
- Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC): Can be sourced from body fat, thus easily collected, and have shown effectiveness in increasing motor function. They appear to be beneficial for stimulating recovery in forms of spinal cord injuries and have the ability to create a higher volume of cells compared to most.
Like all experimental treatment, you need to discuss any procedure with your doctor. And if your injury was caused by an accident and a personal injury claim or lawsuit will be filed, discuss the experimental treatments with an experienced personal injury lawyer with knowledge of such treatments and the way they are handled in claims and lawsuits.