I have to admit that I lost some hope when I found out that stem cell research for brain and spinal cord injuries had ground to a halt. There were a number of advances being made in the mid to late 1990’s by Swedish scientists. Political upheaval due to public protest had put a stop to the research.
My own brother had severe physical problems after a stroke at the age of 31. I had a strong belief that stem cell research and other similar research would help him. Here is what I found out.
Promises in Science
After much of the initial stem cell controversy, new ways were discovered to use non-fetal stem cells for treatment of traumatic brain injury. I found out about some people who had significant improvement after stem cell injection into the damaged areas of the brain. The injected cells had helped stroke victims to recover more than they would otherwise.
For my brother, this was very good news. At the same time, would the same research be helpful to anyone with any kind of brain damage? The hope is definitely there and some of the results are very promising.
A Breakthrough Paralysis Patient
Reading about the success that stroke victims had with stem cells was inspiring. We managed to get my brother into a similar study and, though his damage was classified as permanent, the prognosis could be good. He agreed to undergo the study. This all made me wonder about how people could recover from paralysis.
I found out about Kris Boesen, who had been paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 21 just after a severe car accident. After five weeks in the hospital and no hope for recovery, he was offered a chance to participate in a stem cell procedure study. After agreeing, the risky procedure was taken under way.
I was very excited to find out that the young Boesen braved the risk and positive results were reached. During careful surgery, stem cells were injected into the area where Boesen’s spine was injured. The surgery was a success. After three weeks of intensive physical therapy, he was recovering much better than was ever expected.
It was great for me to see that he recovered much of his abilities and also began to get some feeling back in his legs. This was simply amazing and this young man is a shining example of what is possible in the very near future.
Two Years Later
I can happily report that two years after my dear brother underwent the stem cell procedure, he is still showing consistent improvement and is now able to function on his own. Though like Boesen, the damage is not fully corrected, this type of procedure along with proper therapy seems to be the answer for those with all kinds of brain injuries and damage.
All of this just goes to show that those with brain damage may indeed be able to live normal lives again some day.