Can Stroke Patients Benefit From Stem Cell Therapy?

Can Stroke Patients Benefit From Stem Cell Therapy?

Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability amongst those living in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control, some have a stroke in the United States about every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes.  A majority of all strokes are caused when blood flow to the brain is blocked.  Strokes cause reduced mobility in over half of those affected who are over the age of 45.  As people continue to live longer, stroke poses legitimate risks.  While early action is the best way to address stroke, many people still suffer long-term consequences.  Fortunately, stem cell therapy offers a possible way to help those who have suffered a stroke.

There are a few different kinds of strokes.  However, at its most basic level, a stroke occurs when the brain goes a period of time without receiving blood, and thus oxygen.  This in turn leads to the death of brain cells.  Brain cells do not regenerate as easily as other cells in the body, which ends up leading to long-term disability depending on what region of the brain was affected.  The type of disability caused by a stroke really depends on where the stroke occurred.  Strokes can cause anything from paralysis to speech problems to vision problems and memory problems.  It can also cause difficulty walking which can greatly affect a person’s quality of life.

The earlier a stroke is caught, the easier it is to treat.  There are certain medications that only work within the first few hours of initial symptom onset.  However, after a stroke has occurred, there are still steps that can be taken to help the patient.  Most stroke patients enter a therapy program that greatly helps with rehabilitation.  This typically includes a mix of physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication, and a psychologist.  While these programs can be of great help and do allow patients to recover a certain amount, patients who experience a stroke typically have lasting effects.  Many of these patients learn to live with these lasting disabilities and their quality of life is greatly affected.  Fortunately, up-and-coming research in the field of stem cell therapy has shown there may be hope for those who have suffered a stroke.

Stem cell therapy has been shown to help repair small amounts of brain damage that may have occurred due to a stroke.  The stem cell treatment can allow neural stem cells to multiply in the brain, thus allowing for the repair of damaged brain cells that would not otherwise occur.  This means that one day, patients who have suffered from a stroke and were left with a long-term disability, may one day make a recovery.  Patients who lost their vision, or ability to speak, or ability to walk, may one day regain these things we take for granted in everyday life.  There is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted on the efficacy of stem cell therapy for stroke patients.  However, the current research looks promising.

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