Physicians are now utilizing stem cell therapy to treat sports injuries. In fact, the popularity of stem cell therapy is increasing in sports medicine.
Stem cells are able to divide and replicate and develop into different types of cells in the body. Stem cells can transform into cells with specialized functions, for instance, a bone, cartilage, or tendon cell.
It’s no wonder this therapy is being used to heal sports injuries. Tendons, muscles, cartilage, and tendons are often injured while playing sports, either due to overuse or direct trauma to the area. Even a one-time trauma can result in a significant injury that may require treatment. Stem cells, when administered to an area of injury, will transform into healthy cells to replace damaged tissue in the affected area.
How Stem Cell Therapy Is Delivered
There are three primary ways stem cells are introduced to an injured area to promote healing:
- A doctor may inject stem cells directly into the damaged area, often using ultrasound for precise placement of the stem cells.
- A doctor may stitch a torn muscle, tendon, or ligament with special sutures that are coated with stem cells. After the sutures are dissolved, the stem cells are absorbed into the body, to become cells specific to the injured area.
- Surgery allows direct application. Surgery to repair torn ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bone fractures all offer opportunities to introduce stem cells.
How Stem Cells Are Harvested
When an athlete is injured, stem cells may be harvested from the athlete from his or her own bone marrow, blood, or adipose (fat) tissue.
A doctor harvests stem cell from bone marrow by inserting a special needle into the pelvic bone and drawing out marrow with a syringe. It is typically done with local anesthetic.
Stem cells are obtained from the blood by performing a blood draw, often on the patient him or herself.
A surgical incision or liposuction is typically used to harvest stem cells from fat tissue.
Stem cells obtained from adults are call mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). It is becoming more and more common that MSCs are used to treat sports injuries.
The use of fetal stem cells is banned in the United States, and most physicians agree that embryonic stem cells are much less effective and less responsive than adult stem cells.
Who is a Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
Eligibility for stem cell therapy is largely left up to the physician and his or her patient.
Individual doctors follow their own protocols for deciding who is eligible for stem cell treatment for sports injuries. Those protocols often have to do with the age of the patient and personal health history. Additionally, insurance may be a consideration, since in most cases health insurance companies do not cover stem cell therapy.
Systemic Laboratories is a state-of-the-art lab that is FDA-registered. Tissue processing, biostorage and retrieval are all services that we provide. Call us at (718) 268-6060 for more information.