Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury

Stem cell derived from human umbilical cord or bone marrow improves mobility with spinal cord injuries providing the first physical evidence that the therapeutic use of these cells can help restore motor skills lost from acute spinal cord tissue damage.
Patients are treated by injecting the stem cells directly into damaged area or in the cerebrospinal fluid which flows within the spinal canal. This procedure is called intrathecal injection or lumbar puncture.
After the treatments, improvements were reported by patients with both incomplete and complete injuries. Regaining sensation was reported by 60 patients. More than two-thirds reported increased muscle strength and improved endurance. Post treatment about 26 – 41 % patients experienced better bladder and bowel control and improved erections. Over 50% patients reported decreased spasticity and limb pain.
An injured spinal cord loses its ability to regenerate myelin-forming cells leading to paralysis. Fehlings showed that where stem cells restored myelin in the injured spine, rats showed some recovery and walked with more coordination. Stem cell research has the potential to save the lives of those afflicted by many medical conditions including spinal cord injury.
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