Concerns About Stem Cell Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

We often explain how birth injury lawsuits are critical to ensuring those affected have access to as many resources as necessary for the rest of their lives to recover as much as possible from the injury. For example, when it comes to cerebral palsy, those who are able to purchase specialized equipment, have close nursing care (if necessary), and access of extensive rehabilitation services have far better outcomes than those that do not.

However, it is also important to reiterate that many birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, have no actual cure. Most advancement has to do with better dealing with the consequences or adapting to them. Actually curing the underlying injury is not possible.

For now.

Many hold out hope that in the years to come more advanced options will become available to reverse the injury. When discussing cures, most focus is on stem cells. The potential ability of the cells to rejuvenate areas of the body and spur re-growth of damaged cells ultimately may allow currently permanent injuries to be reversed. The potential is truly inspiring, and all medical professionals who are working diligently on these matters should be supported as much as possible.

Yet, we must not get ahead of ourselves. We are not there yet. As it now stands, stem cell research is still unable to do what many hope it might one day. But the push for breakthrough advances and extreme desire for a cure may lead are leading some families to go to extreme lengths in order to secure what they hope is revolutionary treatment. Many are calling for caution.

Caution Needed with Cerebral Palsy Treatment
For example, an ABC News story this week explored how many scientists are urging families not to pursue risky stem cell treatments to correct cerebral palsy. In most cases people are leaving the country to have the operations–though many treatments may still be available in the United States
At one Australian medical conference, a group of panelists explored the risk. One explained, “”A lot of these stem cell tourism companies don’t even describe what type of cells they’re giving, so first we don’t even know if they’re human cells… so, of course, it is a very risky procedure. There has been a couple of cases internationally of children actually dying from these treatments.”

That is not to say that we are still a long ways off from identifying reliable stem cell treatments. The very same panelists discussed one breakthrough from South Korean researchers. That effort involved use of umbilical cord stem cells in ways that may repair brain cells. This ability to reverse the brain damage which causes cerebral palsy is encouraging.

The bottom line: Tread carefully when it comes to advanced medical treatments not yet widely available in the country. All medical decisions are personal, but those decisions should be based on informed opinion of the possible risks and benefits. No matter what the case, though, access to financial resources to secure appropriate treatment is key. When it comes to injuries caused by negligence, contact our Chicago cerebral palsy lawyers to see how we can help.

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