Stem cells have become an important part of many rehabilitation programs, as they can repair damage to cells in multiple areas of the body. Scientists are investigating their use in stroke recovery as well.

Stroke can be deadly

Stroke is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. In addition to the fatalities, about two thirds of stroke survivors have some form of brain damage. As a stroke occurs, millions of brain cells immediately die off, and there’s no way to revive them. In the best case scenario, the patient is given prompt treatment and it prevents the brain tissue from being destroyed. Obviously, saving brain cells is the first course of action. Beyond that, recovery can go very quickly with amazing results, or take a long time and go slowly.

There is always copious amounts of research into helping victims with stroke recovery, as scientists try to figure out how to repair the brain and help patients recover skills. One avenue that seems promising is stem cell research.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells in the body that can take on the properties of other types of cells and can also multiply on their own. For this reason, stem cell therapy has become an important means of healing various conditions. Stem cell therapy is often able to reduce symptoms, if not completely cure disease, but the use of it has been a breakthrough in rehabilitation.

How stem cells can help with stroke recovery

The basic idea behind research into stem cell therapy to aid in stroke recovery is to inject healthy stem cells into the part of a person’s brain that has been damaged and for the stem cells to take over the area, regenerate, and create new, healthy brain tissue. 

The standard way to treat stroke is to get the patient to the hospital as soon as possible – the amount of damage is highly correlated with the amount of time before the patient got to the hospital. Once the damage has been done, therapists focus on teaching the brain to re-learn lost skills, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps stem cell therapy offers a new way to look at stroke recovery and how it can be accomplished.

What are the challenges?

There are several parts of the brain that need to be regenerated if stem cell therapy is going to work its magic, which poses some challenges for researchers. When a stroke happens, there is blocked blood flow to the brain. So in recovery, not only do the brain cells need to be reconstructed, but neural cells and vascular parts have to be as well. While scientists continue to try and figure out how to grow all kinds of necessary cells and stem cell therapy can create a complete recovery, right now it’s showing to be useful in helping stroke victims who have less severe damage recover. 

Hudson View’s stroke recovery program uses the highest level advances in stroke rehabilitation, to help our patients recover as quickly as possible.

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