Spinal cord injuries can result from injuries from motor vehicle accidents, or workplace and premises accidents. A combination of stem cell therapy and physical therapy may provide hope for spinal cord injury victims. As reported by scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, early findings provide hope that spinal cord injury victims can receive safe treatment that restores some measure of neurological function. Walking and regaining physical sensation and continence control are important goals for injury victims.
Dr. Hatem E. Sabaawy of Robert Wood Johnson led the clinical trial. The trial included patients with spinal cord injuries who had not previously shown improvement after at least six months of other treatments. The patients were randomly placed into two groups, one receiving both physical therapy and stem cell treatment, the other just physical therapy. The stem cells came from bone marrow near the injury site. The group receiving only physical therapy did not show improvement in motor or sensory functions.
While their injuries differed, all patients who received the combination treatment responded favorably within the first month. After three months, all experienced improvement in muscle strength and sensation. This included improved bowel and bladder control. Eventually, the patients were able to function without catheters. After 18 months, nearly half of patients who received combination therapy showed a substantial improvement in sensory and motor function. Some were able to walk on their own.
Scientists hope that this combination treatment can lead to a sustained improvement in life quality for victims. Dr. Sabaawy cautioned that more studies, in more treatment centers ― with more patients receiving different dose levels and intervals ― are needed. While a cure for spinal cord injury has yet to be found, a renewed sense of hope has emerged.
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