Spinal Cord Injury Patients Regain Movement Through Stem Cell Therapy


A new trial, employing stem cell therapy, has aided the recovery of two-thirds of six subjects suffering from spinal cord injury paralysis. Significant recovery was apparent in at least one side of the subject’s paralysis with a rate of 67 percent, which is greater than twice the rate of recovery in past-published data.

A surgical injection of 10 million cells was given to each of the six subjects of the study, all of which had lost all motor functions below the point of the injury.

The results of this trial were beyond anything that Dr. Richard G. Fessler at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago had hoped for. Dr. Fessler holds the position of lead investigator of the study of nerve cells called oligodendocyte progenitor cells or AST-OPC1 cells, which aids neurological function. Rush is among nine U.S. medical centers exploring this new avenue.

Post Treatment Progress

Patients with spinal cord injuries in the neck were able to recover and perform normal functions including eating, writing and other daily manual tasks, with this therapy. Improvement was shown to continue 12 months after the receipt of the treatment, augmenting the quality of life.

“Normally with a spinal cord injury, a person will improve for a month or two but that’s it,” Dr. Fessler said. “We are 12 months out and we are continuing to see improvements in patients who receive the treatment. That’s vastly better than anything we’ve ever seen before.”


Christopher Block, who was injured in an accident in July of 2016, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, underwent surgery at Rush performed by Dr. Fessler. He was given an injection of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells, which support neurological functioning and aid in the restoration of signal conductivity from the brain to the upper extremities in a damaged spinal cord.

“Before my stem cell injection, I couldn’t even move my left arm or my left hand,” Block said.

“Although the aim of the study was that around 12 months, 45-50 percent of the subjects would recover at least two motor levels on at least one side,” said Dr. Edward D. Wirth III, chief medical director of Asterias. “However, the study results exceeded the target recovery rate.”

In the trial, 35 patients with subacute neurologically complete injury to the spinal cord were treated with three escalating doses of AST-OPC1. These are individuals who have lost all movement of the upper and lower limbs as well as all sensation below the injury site. Neurological exams and imaging of patients followed the treatments for safety assessment. The spinal cord of the participants must be in continuity and not severed completely to ensure the proper conclusion. Treatment should be administered within 25 days of the injury.

The Financial Impact of Spinal Injuries

Each year in the U.S. more than 17,000 people suffer a severe, debilitating spinal injury. These injuries can destroy the quality of life and the ability to function independently.

Lifetime costs for healthcare, rehabilitation and special needs can often exceed $5 million.

Vititoe Law Group advocates for victims of spinal cord injuries to help them recover the lifetime of lost income and the astronomical cost of healthcare. If you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury, reach out to Vititoe Law Group for a free consultation with an experienced spinal injury attorney. We are here to help you recover what you truly deserve.

By |2018-05-24T11:39:49-07:00March 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Spinal Cord Injury Patients Regain Movement Through Stem Cell Therapy

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