Saturday, 30 November 2013

Finding Hope for Cerebral Palsy: Stem Cell Therapy

Child with Cerebral Palsy being examined
The effects of a debilitating disease like cerebral palsy on a child, as well as the family of that child, are far beyond what words can describe.

Often times, these families are left with few options at the very most in terms of treatment, and have to rely heavily on physical and psychological therapy to try and improve their child’s quality of life.

But are there better treatment options?
In most cases, children born with cerebral palsy experience a loss of general motor skills and have difficulty speaking, which is usually a result of a lack of oxygen to the center portions of the brain that control the movement of the body’s extremities. However, in more extreme cases, mental retardation and a near complete state of disability is often seen.

Treatment options for parents of these children are limited and usually include different types of physical and psychological therapy. While this is one approach to treating cerebral palsy, it’s generally limited in its ability to restore functionality to the brain itself.

What has shown to be a stronger and more promising treatment for cerebral palsy is stem cell therapy.[2]

Stem Cell Treatment
While the inclusion of stem cells drawn from aborted children makes the topic a controversial one, many parents are opting to store their child’s cord blood at birth, which contains stem cells that can be retrieved and used to treat certain cancers including leukemia and lymphoma as a number of immune system disorders.

While the direct viability of this method of treatment is difficult to verify, it has been successful on the surface.

Part of the difficulty in gauging the effectiveness of this treatment is discerning how much of the improvement is actually a result of physical and psychological therapy and how much is due to the stem cell treatment; the two of which will often be administered at the same time.

In lab experiments,  randomly assigned rats with traumatic brain injury and neurological impairment received transplants of bone marrow-derived stem cells into the location of the brain affected by traumatic injury. [1]

Within three months of the stem cell implementation, researchers reported that some of them had improved motor skills and neurological functioning, as well as reduced brain tissue damage.

This timetable is remarkable and perhaps the strongest evidence for the probability that stem cell treatment works at a much quicker and effective pace than physical and psychological therapy.

The Cord Blood Option

Even if you don’t see any risk factors such as anemia or early delivery on your horizon, it can be a good idea to plan ahead to bank your child’s cord blood once they’re born. The only downside is cost, which is usually around $2,000.

However, most registries offer payment plans and you can always talk to your insurance company to see if they’ll cover any of it.

Since there has been such a high level of success, it’s worth having the option if you do end up having trouble during your delivery, or if your child suffers from a loss of brain functionality or motor skills for any reason.


This was a guest post by Virginia Cunningham, a freelance health writer living in the Los Angeles area. As a mother of a special needs child, and in collaboration with NorthWest, she has the opportunity to share with other parents of special needs children about their available treatment options.


References
1) http://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu
2) Bartley J, Carroll JE. (2003). Stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy PubMed DOI: 10.1517/eobt.3.4.541.21207

1 comment:

  1. Cerebral Palsy Stem Cell Therapy in Mexico16 May 2014 at 04:31

    Stem cell research and technology focusing on umbilical cord stem cell therapies in the treatment of Cerebral Palsy have been under study in recent years. The focus of such studies is to integrate transplanted stem cells into injured areas of the brain, restoring lost function and mobility.

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