By Michael Siciliano, MD
Regenerative medicine itself isn’t new—the first bone marrow and solid-organ transplants were done decades ago. But advances in developmental and cell biology, immunology, and other fields have unlocked new opportunities to refine existing regenerative therapies and create even better ones. While regenerative medicine encompasses the whole body, this article focuses on the repair of extremity neuropathies and damaged joints. With regards to regeneration treatments, three very popular treatments are listed below:
1. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) involves extracting a small amount of the patient’s blood, then extracting and concentrating something called growth factors, which are responsible for inducing new tissue re-growth. Not all PRP is the same and the quality and effectiveness of PRP treatments varies considerably between doctors.
2.Umbilical Cord Derived Cell Therapy (UC/WJ-MSC)is when proliferating factors, including stem cells, are extracted from the umbilical cord and is one of the most useful sources of stem cells we know of. It’s been in use for nearly 20 years in treating children with a blood disease and has increasingly become more common in adult treatments because extraction is immediately after birth, with no harm or risk to the mother or baby and poses no ethical issues such as embryonic derived cell therapy. This makes it not only a noninvasive and lower cost source of stem cells but an incredibly healthy source too, due to minimal damage from pollution and aging because the source is so young and healthy. The issue with this treatment is that the viability of the cells is not always verifiable unless the provider can give you independent lab results certifying this.
3. Autologous derived stem cell therapy is derived from your own adipose tissue or bone marrow. These treatments have proved themselves to be effective. However, it can be argued that because the source is you, the cells are as old as the patient and may not be as robust and healthy as expected. Additionally, the extraction itself can be uncomfortable and carries some risk.
9 KEY FACTORS WHEN CHOOSING A STEM CELL / PRP FACILITY for REGENERATIVE MEDICINE
Focus on more than just stem cells.
Stem cells and PRP are some of the most powerful tools to aid in regeneration and healing, however, they do not operate in a vacuum. Other adjuvant tools are required to promote health and healing within the body.
Regenerative therapy is not one size fits all. Each patient’s treatment, condition and health should be focused on aiding the body to heal in a manner consistent with that individual.
Clinical research and published studies.
Ensure the facility provides the science to back up their protocols and claims vs. smoke and mirrors.
Length of time practicing regenerative medicine.
Make sure the practice is not one of the many fly-by-night operations. The practice should be well-established, licensed, and experienced in regenerative medicine.
An integrative team approach.
The practice should have a team of professionals with multiple scopes collaborating to determine the right care for the patient at the right time.
Rome was not built in a day.
The one-and-done approach, while convenient and ubiquitous ignores the fact that the body often requires multiple treatments to respond. One stem cell or PRP injection to an area ravaged by injury, disease and time is not always the most effective approach.
Many stem cell providers employ no full-time medical doctors and only use a part-time nurse practitioner (NP). Legitimate centers should have full-time trained medical physicians.
Adjacent Segment Treatment (AST)
Ligament laxity in the surrounding structures being treated is often overlooked and is not readily apparent. It is important the treating physician practice the AST approach so as to stabilize all weakened surrounding structures.
While not always possible and highly variable depending on the individual patient’s case, some high-level treatment centers offer an assurance of outcome and a plan B at no charge, should the guaranteed outcome not be achieved.
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