Stem Cell Therapy for Strokes
What Is a Stroke and What Causes It?
Strokes are when brain damage occurs due to a lack of blood flow to parts of the brain, causing tissue damage and cell death. A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked (ischemic) or breaks (hemorrhagic). This causes the brain cells in the area not getting blood to start dying.
When cells start to die it causes the following symptoms:
- Difficulty speaking or slurring words
- Changes in mental awareness, such as confusion, agitation, odd behavior, or becoming unresponsive
- Trouble walking
- Numbness or weakness, usually on one side of the body
- Heachache – sudden abnormal headache that often includes other symptoms.
- One-sided paralysis (hemiplegia), which may happen on the face, a limb, or an entire side of the body
While it happens, a stroke is a medical emergency and needs immediate attention at a local emergency room. The emergent treatments, such as removing the blood clot or surgery to repair the bleeding, aim to reduce further damage to the brain.
Stem Cell Therapy for Strokes FAQ
The Scientific Rationale Behind Stem Cell Therapy for Strokes
An initial stroke causes damage to the brain. Often, it can lead to lasting symptoms that are irreversible and may be lifelong. Conventional standard-of-care therapy focuses on managing symptoms depending on the individual patient. Currently, there are no drugs that can repair this brain damage or reverse the disease processes.
Common treatment of lasting stroke symptoms includes physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medications, and other rehabilitative therapies. These help physical functioning and develop strategies to improve quality of life.
However, they don’t target the root of the problem which is brain damage caused by cell death and inflammation around the damage. This is where stem cell therapy can uniquely deliver benefits.
How Much Does Stem Cell Therapy Cost for Strokes?
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Typically, you will need 1-2 treatments, depending on the plan of care established between you and your doctor. All treatment appointments are in person, but the initial consultation and follow-up can be done by phone.
Some people do come back for additional treatments over the course of months or years. This largely depends on the stage of your disease, how well you respond to the treatment, and what your treatment goals are.
Your Patient Journey with Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke
Step 1: Application and initial consultation
Our questionnaire and initial consultation help us determine whether you’re a good candidate for stem cell therapy, along with the best treatment plans for you. Our patient advocate will walk you through the process, pricing, and payment plans.
Step 2: Physical exam
You’ll come in for a physical exam in preparation for the treatment and also to assess your current symptoms and health status.
Step 3: Stem cell collection
Your procedure will begin where we harvest cells from your bone marrow or fat tissues. We will then isolate the stem cells from these tissues in the clinic before administering your first treatment
Step 4: Stem cell culture
If applicable, we will send your stem cells to the lab to expand them in numbers.
Step 5: Future treatments
Your future stem cell treatments will be done using your cultured stem cells.
Step 6: Follow-up appointments
Our team will keep in contact with you to monitor your treatment progress and support you through your recovery.
Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy vs Standard Treatments and Other Alternative Treatments for Stroke
Current Standard-of-Care Treatments for Stroke and Their Shortfalls
Emergency treatment is needed at the first sign of a stroke. Ischaemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes are treated differently.
Acute ischemic stroke treatment
Acute ischemic strokes are caused by a blood vessel blockage. These blockages are usually blood clots and are removed with:
- Medications that break up clots, such as Alteplase, are best used within 4 ½ hours.
- Thrombectomy – A surgery to remove a blood clot that blocks a large artery in the brain.
- Antiplatelet medications – medications like aspirin help reduce the chance of another clot forming. Stronger antiplatelet medications like dipyridamole or clopidogrel may also be prescribed.
- Anticoagulant medications – similar to antiplatelet medications, anticoagulants prevent new blood clots from forming by thinning the blood. These are long-term medications for if the patient has abnormal heartbeats or a history of blood clots elsewhere in the body.
- Blood pressure medications – for ongoing high blood pressure.
- Cholesterol medications – Statin medications are used to reduce cholesterol as high cholesterol can increase the risk of blood clots
- Carotid endarterectomy – This is a major procedure to remove fatty deposits from one of the major blood vessels (carotid artery) in the neck.
Hemorrhagic stroke treatments
Hemorrhagic strokes happen when blood vessels burst and the blood flows out. Treatment includes:
- Reversing any anticoagulants that were being used prior to stroke
- Blood pressure medication – reduces blood pressure if it is high
- Surgery – emergency surgery to reduce pressure caused by bleeding or accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain cavity. Blood vessels can also be repaired to stop bleeding.
With both types of strokes, additional treatments aid in recovery. Feeding tubes provide nutrition if the patient cannot eat or swallow. Intravenous fluids prevent dehydration, when patients cannot drink or swallow water. Intranasal oxygen helps when breathing is a struggle or the person is not not absorbing oxygen into the blood. Supportive caregiving for hygiene and other complications is provided.
Treatment for lasting symptoms of stroke and the effectiveness of treatment is individual. Various factors can affect how well any treatment program works. Exercise and rehabilitative therapies improve symptoms and prevent further complications. The effectiveness of this is limited by the amount of damage done and the ability to repair the communication pathways in the brain.
This typically includes a combination of hands-on bodywork and movement therapy. Physical therapy may be beneficial in relieving muscle tension and supporting walking and other movement difficulties. In these ways, physical therapy can significantly help improve quality of life.
This focuses on tasks of daily living that may be difficult, such as cooking or getting dressed. An occupational therapist will help you with solutions for these tasks and help ensure an environment that is safe from things like trip hazards.
Speech and language therapy
Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and trouble speaking are common among stroke patients. Speech and language therapy is like physical therapy for these specific areas of great importance.
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