The different ways in which we treat and handle injuries have undergone significant changes over the past few years. Doctors are now able to solve such issues by providing treatment that helps us rebuild using the most fundamental unit of the human body, cells. Specifically, our medical experts achieve this through the usage of stem cells.
Stem cells are cells that have the capacity to divide, multiply and develop into different cell types. They are a perfect fit to treat sports injuries as they can even transform into cells that have a special function such as cartilage, bone or tendon cells.
Athletes push themselves to the limits by putting every single bone and muscle fiber in their bodies under large amounts of stress. This makes them very prone to bone, muscle, tendon or cartilage related injuries. Although athletes are almost always in top physical condition, sometimes even the slightest bit of trauma can cause freak injuries. Stem cell therapy can help significantly in treating such injuries as the stem cells can transform into healthy cells to replace the damaged tissue from the area of injury.
Method of Delivery
There are mainly three ways in which stem cells are delivered to the injured area.
- The cells are sometimes directly injected into the affected area using techniques such as ultrasound for precision.
- When surgery is done, doctors sometimes directly apply the stem cells as they would be dealing with an open area.
- Doctors sometimes can even choose to use sutures with a special coating of stem cells when they stitch a tendon, ligament or muscle. This way the cells get absorbed when the suture dissolves
Ways to Harvest Cells
Stem cells are predominantly harvested from bone marrow, blood, or adipose tissue.
- Stem cells from bone marrow are harvested by using a special needle to extract bone marrow from the pelvic region.
- Blood draws are performed to obtain stem cells from blood.
- In the case of adipose (fat) tissues, stem cells are generally extracted through liposuction.
Sports injuries are now a days popularly treated using mesenchymal cells (MSCs). These are cells that are derived from adults. The use of fetal cells on the other hand is a banned practice in the United States as embryonic stem cells are not as effective or responsive as adult stem cells.
The eligibility criteria for stem cell therapy is largely dependent on your doctor. The protocols or procedures they follow may differ based on their own practices or other factors. Insurance can also play a big role as it wouldn’t cover stem cell therapy. But, in general, factors such as age, medical history or the lifestyle of a patient can be crucial deciders in determining eligibility.
Given that your doctor has shown the green signal for stem cell therapy to treat your injury, it could turn out to be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Recovery time for serious long-term injuries could be cut short drastically and the rebuilding process could also be more effective making you stronger than ever before. With every step we take into stem cell culture, our understanding of this magical method of treatment will only increase. And with more knowledge, our march into a brighter and healthier future will continue with confidence.