According to a new study published in the Journal of Stroke And Cardiovascular Diseases, stem cell experimentation is drastically transforming the lives of stroke patients. Patients with an overwhelmingly poor prognosis began to recover when administered a new treatment, and could suddenly walk and talk again.
Dr. Gary Steinberg, chief of neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, released the study along with his team on Thursday. He told NBC4:
“We did not expect to see significant recovery. We were quite startled by the remarkable recovery some of the patients showed.”
Researchers did not expect to see such drastic results so early in the process. This was a limited test meant to be only the initial phase of a study, which included only 18 patients of varying ages and had experienced strokes at least six months prior to the study.
The study included currently 36-year-old Sonia Coontz of Long Beach. She had a stroke at the age of 31. When she participated in the study at the age of 33, she was almost entirely unable to move her arm.
In order to administer treatment, doctors drilled a small hole in Coontz’s skull and injected modified stem cells directly into the region of her brain that has been affected by her stroke. Only a day after the surgery, she could raise her previously paralyzed arm above her head. According to Steinberg:
“She was what we call one of our miracle patients. She showed some improvement within 24 hours. By the next day she was already moving her arm well. Over the next month, she started talking better, walking better. Within 6 months, her lifestyle was completely changed. She got married and now she’s pregnant.”
Stem cells do not replace brain cells. In fact, Stem cells die within a couple of months. What they do manage to do, however, is quite astonishing. Essentially, stem cells trick the brain into believing it is much younger than it is.
“In a sense, we think they are turning the adult brain in to a neonatal or infant brain that recovers very well after a stroke or other types of injury.”
Stanford researchers are currently conducting a much larger study on stem cell therapy involving 156 participants. Another study is also being conducted on chronic traumatic brain injury patients. Doctors are hopeful that stem cell therapy will help combat diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in the future.
Watch NBC4‘s report below: