Stroke stem cell treatment explained
Having a stroke can be devastating since it takes away one’s independence and dignity especially in severe cases. Also referred to as Cerebrovascular Accident or CVA in medical practice, a stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or broken up. When this occurs the brain does not get enough nutrients or oxygen, hence causing brain cells to die.
There are 3 different types of stroke:
Ischemic, Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), and Hemorrhagic.
Stroke is more likely to affect persons who are:
• Those above the age of 55 years
• Have a family history of stroke
• Those with unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking heavily, does not exercise a lot, poor eating habits, and uses illicit drugs
• Women are more likely to develop stroke as compared to men
What causes stroke?
Different types of stroke have different causes:
1. Ischemic Stroke
Ischemic stroke is the most prevalent type and according to the American Heart Association (AHA), it accounts for 85% of strokes. This form of stroke is triggered by contraction/obstruction of arteries that supply blood to the brain; these obstructions are led by blood clots (plaque) which form either in the brain’s arteries or in other blood vessels within the body.
2. Hemorrhagic stroke
This type of stroke come about when the arteries in the brain have a leakage or bursts open hence reducing the blood supply reaching the brain tissue as well as putting pressure and damaging brain cells. This rupture is caused by issues like high blood pressure, blood thinning drugs, trauma, and aneurysms (weak blood vessel walls).
3. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Unlike the stroke types described above, the transient ischemic attack is temporary and it should serve not only as an indication of a partial clot in the heart but a cautionary signal for future strokes. According to a reported released by “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”, more than 1/3 of patients diagnosed with TIA go on to suffer a huge stroke within a year if they fail to receive medication. Actually, 10% to 15% will experience a major stroke within three months of a TIA.
Symptoms of stroke
A stroke happens very fast and will often happen before the patient can be attended by a physician for a proper diagnosis. Therefore it is important to ensure the victim is treated at the hospital within three hours of their signs and symptoms first showing.
Here are the most common symptoms of stroke:
• Confusion that involves difficulties with understanding and speaking
• Numbness particularly on one side of the body
• Impaired vision
• Challenges while walking; lack of coordination and dizziness
• Depending on how fast the condition is diagnosed and cured, the victim can experience temporary or permanent disabilities after the traumatizing experience
Besides the above-highlighted symptoms, the patients may also undergo:
• Bladder/ or bowel movement troubles
• Pain in the limbs that increases with changes in temperature and movement
• Paralysis on one or both sides of body
• Challenges expressing and regulating emotions
Although the signs and symptoms vary among different people, the acronym F.A.S.T. is an effective way to remember the signal and assists recognize the onset of this condition faster:
F- Face drooping
A- Arm weakness
S- Slurred or strange speech
T- Time to call the emergency services if any of the above three signs are observed
Stroke stem cell treatment overview
Why stem cells? Stem cells are smart cells in human bodies that multiply and reintroduce themselves indefinitely into specific cells and have the potential to develop into brain tissue, helping to treat damaged cells.
Step 1: Qualification for treatment
Stroke stem cell treatment starts with a safety and efficacy assessment done by medical experts so as to investigate the stage and severity of the stroke. Doctors will determine if the patient qualify for the procedure or not. The following pre-treatment tests are conducted depending on patient’s medical and hereditary background.
Pre-treatment assessments include repetitive blood tests, predictable urine analysis, X-Ray and ultrasound, physical examination, and transmittable disease testing.
Pre-operative procedures include Computerized Tomography (CT scan), medical history, surgical correction and magnetic reasoning imaging (MRI).
Step 2: Stem cell source extraction
With doctor’s authorization and direction, the donor source from which stem cells are to be collected is decided. It can either be bone marrow or adipose tissue but in some cases, both autologous sources are used for advanced results. The physicians can also suggest boosting of stem cell depending on the condition’s harshness and immediate requirement.
With the application of local anaesthesia, desired amounts of samples are collected from the patient’s body and the whole process can take 7 to 8 hours.
Step 3: Lab Processing
The garnered sample is then sent to a laboratory for processing which will be done in compliance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. The sample is then enhanced with stem cell culture pure population and the isolated stem cells are categorized for viability, quality, and purity.
Step 4 Implantation of stem cells
Stem cells are injected back into the patient’s body using either of the following methods (the preferred mode is also decided taking into account the patient’s mental and physiological health):
• Intravenous injection; stem cells are injected into the body by imparting through the vein
• Intrathecal injection; also known as lumbar puncture, stem cells are infused into the cerebrospinal fluid (spinal cord)
• Intra-arterial injections; just like the name suggests stem cells are injected into the main artery carrying blood to the injected site
• Surgery; this is a very rare case
Patients who underwent stroke stem cell treatment are advised to visit their doctor regularly for post treatment (to examine the medical development via CT-scan, evaluation, and MRI).
Finally, it is important that patients adopt a healthy lifestyle.