First Steps At Five Years Old – Cord Blood Stem Cells and Cerebral Palsy
Today’s guest post was written by Kate Girard, R.N. MSN and Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs here at ViaCord. Kate has been with ViaCord for 13 years. Her position entails leading the regenerative medicine team in working to identify and explore research involving new applications for cord blood and cord tissue stem cells.
I spent six years as a Labor & Delivery nurse, helping bring hundreds of babies into this beautiful and sometimes crazy world. With each birth, the wonder of it all struck me like lightening. These tiny lives – so small and innocent, yet so full of potential – will have opportunities and experiences we can’t even imagine. They will have science and technology bring the best of humanity. They will have joys and pains, dreams and failures. Their future began right there – in that moment.
Fifteen years later I find myself being struck by the wonder of it all again – except this time I’m not in an L&D room. For the past decade and a half I’ve been working in the world of cord blood stem cells.
Thanks to advancing science and technology, efforts have been underway to help uncover new uses for these incredible cells – in an area known as Regenerative Medicine. Regen Med is the science of living cells being used to potentially regenerate or facilitate the repair of cells damaged by disease, genetics, injury or simply aging. Though in the early stages, clinical research studies in regenerative medicine are offering hope that cord blood stem cells may prove beneficial in young patients facing life-changing medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy109 and autism111; conditions once thought untreatable.
Today I want to share one little boy, Ashton’s, experience with you. At about six weeks old, Ashton was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscle coordination and body movement. It is most often caused by brain injury or an abnormality in the brain resulting from infection or trauma sustained in the womb or during the early years of life. A few years ago, Ashton used his own cord blood stem cells to help treat his condition. Watch Ashton’s story below to see how he is doing today.
Note: This video describes one family’s experience using cord blood stem cells in an emerging area of science called regenerative medicine. This experience has not been confirmed or validated through a clinical research study. Each patient’s medical history and treatment outcome is different. Other factors such as aging, physical therapy and occupational therapy may have caused par or all of these results. Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will work and only a doctor can decide when it can be used.
REFERENCES: 109. Cord blood stem cell therapy has great but unproven potential to significantly advance the treatment of patients with acquired and genetic brain diseases. Jessica M. Sun, Joanne Kurtzberg. “Cord blood for brain injury.” Cytotherapy, 2015; 17: 775-785. 111. When optimally dosed, cord blood may improve motor function in young children with cerebral palsy.Jessica Sun, MD, Mohamad Mikati, MD, Jesse Troy, PhD, Kathryn Gustafson, PhD, Ryan Simmons, MS, Ricki Goldstein, MD, Jodi Petry, MS, OTR/L, Colleen McLaughlin, DNP, Barbara Waters-Pick, BS, MT(ASCP), Laura Case, PT, DPT, Gordon Worley, MD and Joanne Kurtzberg, MD. "Autologous Cord Blood Infusion for the Treatment of Brain Injury in Children with Cerebral Palsy." Oral and Poster Abstracts presentation. 57th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 7, 2015; Orlando, FL. Abstract 925.
Kate is a wife and mother of two young kids. When she’s not dedicating herself to increasing the utility of cord blood stem cells, you can find Kate out for a run, enjoying live music, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She’s quick to make you laugh with one of her many puns and loves life to the fullest: What did the sea say to the sand? Nothing. It just waved.