I know that I am touching very “hot” topic: stem cell treatment which is advertised everywhere and has been discussed in almost every corridor in clinics and hospitals. According to some online ads, stem cell treatment is a “revolutionary breakthrough” in the treatment of cerebral palsy.
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about this treatment, so I have decided to discuss it in this blog.
Stem cell treatment is an experimental treatment that is still in the research stage. Even though the treatment is performed in such countries as German, China, Israel, and in research trials in Canada, the effects of the treatment and its long-term side effects are not fully known.
In some cases it helps, in other – it does not.
The logic under the treatment goes as follows: stem cells are extracted from patients’ bone marrow, cultivated in the laboratory and injected back into the body of the patient. These new cells have ability to rebuild damaged organs or neurological pathways. According to the Cell Center in Germany (http://www.xcell-center.com ), this is a surgical procedure. Therefore the claim that this is a “non – invasive type of therapy” does not apply.
Usually the signs of improvement become evident within three to six months after the procedure. In some cases, according to some patients’ accounts, the improvement can be seen almost right away.
Personally I have seen children and adults after they’ve been through stem cell treatment. Please do not get me wrong, I do not want to sound like a skeptic – actually, I am praying for the success of this research – but these patients emerged from stem cell treatment in the same condition as they were before the procedure.
If you have had a different experience with stem cell treatment, I invite you to share this information. The more we know about this treatment, the better we can make decisions that will benefit our children.
At this point, the question we really need to consider is: does stem cell treatment cure and resolve the functional limitations of the patient?
I would say that it definitely does not. In best case scenarios, stem cell treatment can rebuild neurological pathways, but it will not teach your child how to roll, crawl, sit, stand and walk, as well as how to talk and socialize.
To make the story short, it will not teach your child to become INDEPENDENT in every aspect of his of her life. This procedure as any other does not replace the need to teach your child the everyday functions necessary to lead an independent life. As parents and therapists, we will continue to have this responsibility.