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What are the types of stem cells and how do they work?

As the very foundation of every cell in your body, the primary role of stem cells is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. Stem cells have the ability to develop — through a process called differentiation — and self-renew (make copies of themselves) into many different types of cells, such as skin cells, brain cells, lung cells and more. Stem cells are a key component of regenerative medicine, as they create opportunities for new clinical applications. developing completely new ways to treat and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, and degenerative nerve, bone and joint conditions.

There are four different types of stem cells – they originate from different areas of the body, and they have different healing functionalities:

  • Embryonic stem cells – (ES) are incredibly valuable stem cells that are formed as normal part of embryonic development, and have the potential to become any type of cell in the body, making them invaluable for treating and studying many diseases.
  • Tissue-specific stem cells – Tissue specific stem cells have been found in tissues such as the brain, heart, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin and liver. These tissue-specific stem cells are powerful, naturally-occurring cells that can modify inflammation and promote natural healing.
  • Mesenchymal stem cells – (MSCs) are tissue or “adult” stem cells, which are specialized cells found in the skeletal tissues. They can differentiate or specialize into cartilage cells, bone cells and fat cells.
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells – (iPs) cells are cells that are created artificially in a lab by reprogramming a patient’s own natural cells, thus there is no risk that their immune system will reject them. These iPs cells can be made from freely available cells including fat*, skin and fibroblasts (cells that produce connective tissue).

Why is regenerative medicine important?

Traditionally, medicine has only treated the symptoms that disease, illness and injury cause, rather than treating the root cause of these conditions. Regenerative medicine is a game-changing frontier, and takes a different approach altogether- it holds the promise of being able to actually heal a patient’s body from within. Regenerative medicine is the ability to use the latest in medical technology to help restore structure and function to damaged tissues and organs within the body.

What exactly is Platelet Rich Plasma, and how does it work as a treatment?

At Regenerative Sport, Spine and Spa our quality control program ensures that our Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) preparations are consistent and high quality, and our PRP preparations can be individualized to meet your specific therapy needs.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been in the news and written about in scientific and medical journals regarding its potential effectiveness toward treating injuries. Several famous athletes such as Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal and several others have received PRP for knee and chronic tendon injuries, and many of them credit PRP therapies toward returning them more quickly to their sport. Here are a few of the questions surrounding PRP, and how it works as a treatment:

What actually is Platelet Rich Plasma? 

Blood is mainly a liquid called plasma, however it does contain red cells, white cells and platelets which are solid components. Platelets, known for clotting, also contain hundreds of growth factors, which are vital in healing injuries in the body. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is plasma with 5 to 10 times a richer (or greater) concentration of growth factors – so it is that much more healing to injuries.

How does it work? 

Laboratory studies have shown that because PRP contains an increased concentration of growth factors it can potentially speed up the healing of an injury, which is invaluable to athletes. To prepare PRP, blood is drawn from a patient. Then the platelets are separated from the other blood cells and their plasma concentration is enhanced during a process called centrifugation. After centrifugation the enhanced plasma is then combined with the remaining blood, and will be injected carefully into the injured area of inflamed tissue, such as the heel cord in Achilles tendinitis – a common condition in runners and tennis players.

What conditions are being treated with PRP? Is the treatment effective? 

Most of the publicity that PRP therapy has received so far has been about its effectiveness in treating acute sports injuries, such as muscle and sports injuries. According to current research studies, PRP has been the most effective treating chronic tendon injuries such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis or of the patellar tendon at the knee (known as jumper’s knee). It is also showing promising results in therapies treating knee arthritis, helping tissues heal more quickly after certain surgeries, as well as being used in a limited way to help speed up the healing of broken bones and fractures. So far PRP therapy is showing promise, however as with any therapy the effectiveness depends on a few factors including: the treatment area of the body, the patient’s physical overall health, and whether the injury is acute (such as a fall or ankle twist) or chronic (which is an injury that develops over time).

What are Exosomes, and why are they useful?

Within regenerative medicine stem cells are being used and studied to help heal tissue. Exosomes, (which are extracellular vesicles – or small structures within a cell – released from cells), are showing exciting promise – they are demonstrating great ability to provide therapy benefits. Exosomes are released from cells in response to injuries, and research is showing that exosomes play a key role in coagulation – when blood changes from a liquid to a gel, forming a clot. One of the most promising uses of exosomes within orthopaedics involves rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disorder in which inflammation leads to pain and degradation of joints.

The future of regenerative medicine is quickly evolving to become a reality, and at Regenerative Sports, Spine & Spa, we offer cells for therapeutic use in patients, and will tailor your therapy to meet your specific needs and goals.

What is the best way to deal with a sports injury?

At Regenerative Sports, Spine & Spa we’re well-versed on sports injury therapies, and offer treatment for back, shoulder, knee, hip pain – as well as spinal injuries. Our goal is to get you back to feeling like yourself, so that you can resume your normal activity level quickly. We understand that a sports injury can be anywhere on the spectrum of annoying to a catastrophic event – they can effect even the most seasoned athlete or the novice weekend warrior. Serious athletes must understand that managing their injury effectively is part of the game they must play to achieve continued success, also that rehabilitation skills are similar to sports skills.

There are four factors which influence recovery:

  • Heightened body awareness – Forcing athletes to a deeper understanding of their bodies and to revisit techniques.
  • Enhanced pain management – An injury can cause an athlete to better monitor, evaluate and manage pain during the rehabilitation process.
  • Emotional momentum – The challenge of a sports injury may impact an athlete negatively, however those who approach these emotional challenges with determination and intensity can recover with a higher performance level.
  • New perspective on sport – Recovery time may offer an important reflection period, where an athlete gains a new perspective of what role their sport plays in their life, and can cause a clearer mind, and they may recommit themselves further to the sport.

What are the types and levels of a spinal cord injury?

A spinal cord has four sections, and each section protects different nerve groups that control the body. Spinal cord injuries vary in severity, and the severity can depend on the spinal section that is injured. The four different spinal sections, and the areas they affect are:

  • Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries – above the shoulders – the head and neck region
  • Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries – the upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles
  • Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries – hips and legs
  • Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries – hips and back of the thighs, buttocks and pelvic organs

Spinal cord injuries can vary in severity – and can be classified as either a complete spinal cord injury, causing permanent damage to the area of the spinal cord affected, or an incomplete spinal cord injury, which is partial damage to the spinal cord, but still retains the ability of movement and feeling, depending on the area of spinal injury.