All About Orthopedic Rehab

All About Orthopedic Rehab

Orthopedic rehab is a type of rehabilitation designed to help people who have been injured, had surgery, or have degenerative conditions. Its goal is to aid patients in regaining mobility, balance, and function in their musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic rehab also focuses on finding ways to alleviate pain.

If you have suffered an injury or gone through surgery, or if you have a degenerative condition that affects your mobility, orthopedic rehab could be the right option for you. But what can it help with, and what can you expect from the process?

What Conditions Can Orthopedic Rehab Help With?

Orthopedic rehab is a conservative treatment that can benefit patients of all ages who are suffering from issues that affect their range of motion, joint flexibility, muscle strength, and body function.

It can help with conditions like:

  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Scoliosis
  • Stroke
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Knee instability 
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sciatica

This type of rehab is usually essential for those recovering from joint replacement surgeries and similar procedures. It can also help with pelvic floor issues.

Orthopedic physical therapy is important after certain surgical procedures, including those like:

  • Knee replacement
  • Rotator cuff replacement
  • Knee arthroscopy
  • Hip replacement 
  • Cancer surgery
  • Heart surgery

This type of rehab can help to normalize your gait, improve your range of motion, and even prevent excessive scar tissue buildup. 

It’s also helpful for people who’ve suffered a chronic injury. A chronic injury is damage that occurs over time, generally because of small movement patterns that lead to repetitive injuries to your bones, joints, or tendons. Tennis elbow or carpal tunnel are examples. With rehabilitation, you can learn how to move without injuring yourself. 

Benefits of Orthopedic Therapy

Orthopedic therapy helps increase your mobility. Mobility can be limited after an operation, while recovering from an injury, or when dealing with degenerative diseases. This type of therapy utilizes stretching and exercise strategies to slowly increase your range of motion. 

Orthopedic therapy also helps with pain management so that you don’t have to rely as much on pain medications. Therapists can massage the treatment area, increasing circulation and decreasing inflammation. Some orthopedic therapy options use ice packs for dealing with inflammation and heat packs for loosening tension. 

Better blood circulation, which orthopedic therapy helps with, also brings oxygen and nutrients to the treatment area. This makes it easier for injuries to heal. 

You can also help avoid re-injuring yourself. Therapy assists by teaching you to move safely while also showing you how to gain strength in the area. 

Types of Treatments Offered in Orthopedic Therapy

When you turn to orthopedic therapy, you can benefit from a few different types of treatments. 

Hot and Cold Therapy

Orthopedic therapy often relies on thermotherapy (heat therapy) and cryotherapy (cold therapy) to treat musculoskeletal swelling and pain. 


Electrical stimulation can help diminish pain. With E-stim, your therapist attaches a device to the treatment area. The two main types of devices they may use include TENS, which uses low-voltage electrical currents to offer pain relief, and NMES, which sends electrical impulses to the nerves. 

Exercise Therapy

You will get an exercise plan that helps you increase mobility, strength, and balance. You will get a chance to practice them with the therapist so that you can then repeat them at home. 

Soft Tissue Manipulation

Soft tissue manipulation is a kind of manual physical therapy in which your physical therapist massages your ligaments, fascia, and muscles. It helps optimize muscle function while also decreasing tension. It may also be effective at improving blood circulation. 

Laser or Light Therapy

Low-level lasers and light therapies can help with muscle performance. They have the potential to reduce muscle fatigue and help tissues repair after an injury. 

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy 

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the growth factors in your blood to encourage healing at the treatment area. It’s an option that often complements other orthopedic therapies. 

What an Orthopedic Rehab Plan Can Look Like

The orthopedic plan your healthcare provider recommends will consider your injury, overall health, abilities, and goals. You will have a personalized and unique program that your team can adjust as you progress through it. 

The first step is to determine whether you can benefit more from an inpatient or outpatient orthopedic rehab program. In more complex situations, inpatient care is usually the right choice, while outpatient options are better suited for minor injuries. 

Most patients start each rehab session with physical therapy. These sessions can last between 30 and 60 minutes. Those with more serious issues can begin lying on an exam table while the therapist performs some passive exercises. You may then have to perform the same exercises on your own. 

Your therapist may then continue to show you more stretches and exercises to incorporate into your home routine. Some of the exercises may even rely on weights or bands. 

Orthopedic rehab also focuses on helping patients perform everyday tasks. If you have trouble walking, the session can involve relearning how to do this correctly to avoid falls and further injuries. If you have had a joint replacement, you may relearn to walk with the support of the therapist before moving on to walkers and other devices. 

Patients who need to improve grip strength will likely spend a significant amount of time in the session practicing grabbing things of increasing weight. 

For patients who have degenerative diseases, balance exercises are particularly useful. They can help the patient better understand where their body is in space. Some of these exercises can include standing on one foot and raising or lowering a foot or knee. 

Getting the Care You Need

Orthopedic rehab offers the chance to regain your strength, balance, range of motion, and more after suffering an injury or going through surgery. It is also useful in the process of managing degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. 

By combining various types of therapies, including PRP therapy, you have the chance to get relief from pain while also preventing future injuries. 

Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke Recovery

Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke Recovery

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 795,000 people have strokes every year in the United States, and about 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. Recovering from a stroke can be a complex process that involves many types of therapies, and one option that shows promise is stem cell therapy. 

Stem cell therapy promotes growth factors and offers relief from inflammation, providing the possibility of healing the damage the stroke caused. Learn more about stem cell therapy when used for the recovery period after a stroke. 

How Strokes Affect the Brain

A stroke is like a heart attack, except it takes place in your brain. It occurs when something blocks the blood supply to the brain, not allowing the organ to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. If your brain doesn’t receive blood, its cells begin to die off or suffer damage, making it impossible for the organ to do its job. 

Your brain controls everything your body does, including how you move and how you think, feel, and communicate. The results of a stroke are immediate. 

The two main types of strokes are ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic strokes are the most common type and are caused by blockages. They can occur when:

  • A blood clot forms in the main brain artery.
  • A blockage forms in the small blood vessels deep within the brain.
  • A blood clot from the heart or another type of blockage travels via the bloodstream to an artery supplying the brain.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there’s bleeding in or around the brain. They can be the result of a blood vessel bursting in the brain, or a blood vessel on the surface of the brain may burst and leak blood in the area between the skull and the brain. 

When you have a stroke, the areas of the brain it affects determine the kind of issues you can struggle with. 

Some people experience weakness and paralysis in certain parts of their body, while others struggle with language and the processes of speaking or understanding what other people say. A stroke can even affect what your voice sounds like. 

Other issues you may experience include:

  • Balance problems
  • Incontinence
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Visual problems
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling pain

You may also struggle with mental processes like memory, concentration, understanding, and perception. Strokes can even affect your emotions. 

Understanding Stem Cell Therapy: What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are the body’s building blocks. They are responsible for creating organs, tissues, and even your immune system. They are undifferentiated cells that can become and create specialized cell types. In other words, they can become any cell within the body, depending on where they’re placed. 

Stem cells can also divide indefinitely, either creating other stem cells or specialized cells. When used to help the recovery period after a stroke, stem cells can differentiate into brain cells. 

When they’re used in the brain, they don’t integrate and become neurons that reconstruct circuits. They instead start pumping out growth factors that enhance the recovery process, allowing new blood vessels and neurons to form. All of this helps make the brain more flexible, giving it a chance to recover after a stroke. 

Neuroplasticity is what’s necessary for people who’ve suffered a stroke. It is the ability of the brain to rearrange its circuits, basing the organization on your behaviors. 

Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy After a Stroke

Stem cell therapy is minimally invasive. You don’t have to worry about procedures that require long recovery processes or force you to spend time in the hospital. When you get stem cell therapy, the process is fast and can be done as an outpatient treatment. 

Stem cells don’t just mask the symptoms of the damage the stroke caused. Experiencing pain after a stroke many times means turning to pain medications, which temporarily give you relief but also have unpleasant side effects. When you turn to stem cell therapy, your brain gets what it needs to start healing. 

One of the most important things that stem cell therapy offers is the chance to relieve inflammation. When you suffer an injury of any kind, including a stroke, your body’s natural healing process causes inflammation. 

This type of swelling, however, doesn’t allow a regular flow of blood to the injured area. Without the right degree of circulation, the damaged area doesn’t receive nutrients or oxygen, which makes healing more difficult. Stem cells help reduce inflammation, making the process of healing easier. 

How the Stem Cell Therapy Process Works

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been studied for their potential therapeutic applications in various medical conditions, including stroke. MSCs have several properties that make them attractive candidates for stroke therapy:

  • MSCs possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help modulate the immune response and reduce inflammation in the brain following a stroke. Excessive inflammation is a key contributor to secondary damage after a stroke. 
  • MSCs can modulate the immune system, potentially suppressing harmful immune responses while promoting tissue repair and regeneration.
  • MSCs secrete various growth factors and neurotrophic factors that support neuronal survival, growth, and differentiation. These factors can contribute to the repair and regeneration of damaged neural tissue.
  • MSCs can stimulate the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which is crucial for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the damaged brain tissue.
  • While the ability of MSCs to differentiate into neurons is limited, they may contribute to neural repair indirectly by interacting with the local environment and supporting the survival of existing neurons. 

Is Regenerative Medicine Right for You?

Suffering a stroke can be devastating, leaving you with lasting damage and impacting your quality of life. Along with physical therapy and other treatments your doctor recommends, patients are exploring their options with stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy and other regenerative medicine options offer the opportunity to give your brain the tools it needs to start healing. By helping reduce inflammation and bringing growth factors to the treatment area, stem cell therapy provides the chance to promote neuroplasticity and start healing

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Stroke?

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Stroke?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke every year. A stroke happens when something blocks the supply of blood to a part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. 

If you’ve had a stroke, knowing what to expect from the recovery process is vital. Learn about the potential recovery timeline. 

Day 1: Beginning Your Recovery

The first step is always to confirm that you did have a stroke. This should happen as soon as possible because the treatment process is most effective when it begins right after the stroke. 

When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll be taken to an imaging room for a CT scan, which will help identify the stroke. The type of stroke you had will determine the treatment you receive. Your team will go through the entire process with you and your loved ones to ensure you understand what it involves. 

Week 1: The Next Steps

Most stroke patients can go home after about four to seven days. This will vary depending on your overall health, the severity of the stroke, and how the recovery is progressing. 

This first week is when you and your team will put your recovery plan into action. You may need a number of therapies. 

Physical therapy involves mobility training, motor-skill exercises, range-of-motion activities, and anything else that helps you regain motor skills. 

Speech therapy focuses on helping you regain any lost speaking abilities, as well as helping you with swallowing. 

Another type of therapy is occupational therapy, where an occupational therapist will help you with any issues with vision and cognitive skills. 

Because stroke rehabilitation needs to focus on treating the whole patient and not just the symptoms, the treatment plan has to include cognitive and emotional activities with a mental health specialist. This type of therapy helps you express what you’ve been feeling after the stroke. 

The Three Months After the Stroke

You will continue your rehabilitation either as home-based care, which involves the therapists coming to you at your home, or as outpatient therapy at a stroke rehabilitation center. 

Some people can also benefit from specialized short-term or long-term care. One of these options is skilled nursing care. Many nursing facilities have experience helping people who have had strokes and need more intensive care. The average stay at these nursing facilities is about a month. 

Inpatient stroke rehabilitation is another option. It usually involves spending two or three weeks at an inpatient facility for people who’ve had strokes. You will likely have therapy five days a week for at least three hours a day. This can be a good option if you need 24/7 medical care but can still handle intensive therapies. 

Nursing home care is a long-term option. It is a good choice if you need non-medical care and help with things like bathing, eating, and mobility. You can still receive certain therapies, but for the most part, nursing home care focuses on helping you manage everyday life. 

You can also combine these options, with some people moving from one option to the next as they start improving. 

Some people experience a spontaneous recovery during the first three months after a stroke. This is when a skill or ability that you thought you had lost returns completely. Spontaneous recovery occurs because the brain finds new ways of performing a particular task. 

Six Months After the Stroke

Within six months, most people who have had strokes have completed at least one rehabilitation program and may be continuing care at home. 

Just because you’ve returned home doesn’t mean you don’t still need therapy, however. It’s crucial to focus on preventing another stroke as well, so you should establish relationships with specialty and primary doctors who will be there to provide ongoing care. 

You should have a mental health professional helping you through this stage of recovery. Having a stroke is a major event in your life, and you may not have yet processed it emotionally. A mental health professional helps you find ways of dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns you’re struggling with. 

Another important member of your team is the vascular neurologist. They specialize in strokes as well as other brain diseases. They’re the ones who can identify a stroke when you go to the hospital, and they also provide post-stroke care. 

Your primary care doctor is another crucial team member. They help monitor your health and are even able to gauge your risks of having another stroke. 

One Year After a Stroke

After a year, you will likely have completed one or more rehabilitation programs. You may still be struggling with limitations or may have experienced a full recovery. However, it’s important to know that stroke recovery is an ongoing process. 

You also want to continue dealing with the emotional toll a stroke can take, so reaching out to support groups for people who’ve had strokes is a good option. This will allow you to speak with others who have gone through a similar process. 

Understanding Setbacks

Setbacks can happen in the months after a stroke. Setbacks can include a second stroke, pneumonia, and other health issues. Although these events take a significant toll on your body, they often take a heavier one on your mental state. That’s why having a mental health professional helping you is vital. 

Your care team will have to adjust your recovery timeline if these setbacks occur and prepare new therapies that can address any issues that may have arisen. 

Outlook After a Stroke

A full recovery after a stroke is often possible. It’s also possible to experience lasting issues that affect your daily life and require long-term adjustments. Perhaps the most important thing, however, is to prevent another stroke. 

By working closely with your recovery team and having medical professionals you trust helping you, you can pursue the various therapy options available. 

One such option is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, which uses your body’s natural healing abilities to work where you need them most. Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment to help people manage their condition and help the healing process after a stroke. Speak with your doctor about these options. 

Stroke Recovery Tips to Improve Faster

Stroke Recovery Tips to Improve Faster

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that as many as 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year. A stroke is a serious condition that can range in severity but that requires some patience throughout the recovery process. Learn more about what a stroke is and the recovery tips that can help you improve faster. 

What Is a Stroke?

You can think of a stroke as the brain’s equivalent of a heart attack. It occurs when a part of your brain doesn’t receive enough blood flow, either because you have a blocked artery or because you were bleeding into your brain. If something blocks blood flow to your brain, the organ doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs.

Anyone can have a stroke, including children. That said, you may have a higher risk than others if you are older than 65 or if you have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or irregular heart rhythms. 

The warning signs of a stroke are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes
  • Loss of balance
  • Drooping smile
  • Muscle weakness on one side of the body
  • Confusion

Most strokes are ischemic, which means that blood clots have blocked the blood vessels to the brain. Plaque can also cause such a blockage. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain breaks open or leaks blood into the brain. This blood puts a lot of pressure on brain cells.

Stroke Recovery Tips

If you’ve suffered a stroke, take the time to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle so that you can recover faster and perhaps even prevent future strokes. 

Rest When Your Body Asks for It

The stroke and the recovery process both put a lot of stress on your body, and you need to listen to what it tells you. If fatigue becomes overwhelming, allow yourself to rest. As you recover, your brain needs sleep. Sleep helps improve movement recovery after a stroke, making it as vital as your rehabilitation exercises. 

Good Nutrition Is Key

Your body needs all the right nutrients to heal more efficiently. This means sticking to a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. Some vitamins are also essential for stroke recovery, including vitamin D, which you get from the sun but also from egg yolks, fatty fish, and cheese. 

Vitamin B3, present in turkey, salmon, and chicken, is also crucial because it helps with neuroplasticity. Another excellent option is vitamin B12 because it can boost the function of nerve and brain cells. Eggs, poultry, and milk are also great sources. And If cholesterol is a concern, fish is a better option. 

An additional vitamin to consider adding to your diet is vitamin C. You can find it in citrus fruits, as well as broccoli and bell peppers. 

If you have dietary restrictions, consult your doctor about whether taking vitamin supplements is a good option for you. As you recover from a stroke, avoid alcohol and an excess amount of sugary foods and drinks, as well as foods rich in saturated fat. 

Use the Affected Side of Your Body

Your brain focuses on efficiency. If you don’t use an affected limb or entire side of your body, your brain forgets how. For instance, if you spend days not using your right hand, it will assume it’s not an important part of the body and de-prioritize it. 

As you recover, all movement is important. Even if you don’t fully control the limb or if you experience paralysis after the stroke, you can help by moving that part of your body with your hands. 

Schedule Regular Visits to Your Doctor

Your doctor is one of your most powerful allies as you start healing from a stroke. They will be able to guide you through all of the stages of your recovery, offering advice and reassurance. They have experience treating strokes and can give you the right perspective on how your recovery is going. Speaking often and honestly with them is key. 

Don’t Get Discouraged

Progress after a stroke tends to be slow, which can be discouraging. You may not see the kinds of huge improvements you may have expected, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t improving at all. 

One of the toughest moments in the stroke recovery process is the “plateau” that occurs after about three months. You may notice that recovery is slowing down. It doesn’t have to stop, however, if you continue with your rehabilitation programs. 

To rewire itself, your brain needs constant stimulation. Speak with your doctor about finding the right therapies to perform at home so that you can continue making progress even after months after experiencing the stroke. 

Communicate What You Feel

Another important aspect of recovering from a stroke is healing emotionally. Going through a serious issue like a stroke leaves you feeling vulnerable or like you’re alone with your worries. 

Communicate with your loved ones and let them know what you’re feeling. If that’s not an option, reach out to support groups. Support groups allow you to meet others who have gone through similar situations and who have a good understanding of the challenges you face. For some people, turning to a therapist can be helpful, too. 

Stay Active

Physical activity, even simply walking around a room, helps minimize high blood pressure. This means it can also assist in preventing future strokes. Exercise additionally boosts your mood by releasing endorphins. 

Ask your doctor what exercise options are suitable for your needs. Never begin a regimen without the recommendation of your doctor. 

Managing Life After a Stroke

Lingering stroke symptoms can be frustrating. They may leave you thinking that there’s nothing you can really do about them. That’s not necessarily true. Lately, the field of regenerative medicine has been turning to stem cell therapy options to help people manage better after a stroke. 

Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, has the potential to replace damaged brain cells and restore some lost functions for post-stroke patients. MSCs (Mesenchymal Stem Cells) can potentially help post-stroke by reducing inflammation, promoting neuroprotection, and stimulating tissue repair in the damaged brain.

As with every treatment you’re considering, speak with your doctor to find out whether it might be a good choice for your needs. 

Regenerative Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapies for Ischemic Stroke

Regenerative Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapies for Ischemic Stroke

Recent advances in medical accessibility, technology, and treatment have increased the average human life expectancy, while at the same time, increasing the risk for neurodegenerative diseases and other disorders – including stroke.

According to the CDC, nearly 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year, with 87% of these strokes being ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced or interrupted. Without the ability to deliver oxygen or nutrients, brain cells begin to die in a matter of minutes.

Even when identified and treated early, the lasting, long-term effects associated with stroke result in economic and social costs for patients, their families, and society in general. As an example, the CDC estimates that stroke-related costs, including those associated with healthcare and missed days of work, exceed $50 billion dollars in the U.S. each year.

While medical research continues to search for ways to prevent stroke by addressing underlying causes, primary stroke treatment continues to focus on managing stroke progression while also treating related symptoms. 

Recently regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, along with rehabilitation therapy has been presented as an effective stroke treatment. In this review, Berlet, et al. explore the potential synergistic outcomes of stroke treatment observed when combining current advances in stem cell research with known stroke rehabilitation strategies. The authors also review research while considering the advantages and disadvantages of using the combination of stem cell transplantation and rehabilitation as a way to mitigate the devastating effects of stroke. 

Combining stem cell treatment with rehabilitation therapy and outside strategies, such as an enriched environment (EE) may enhance functional stroke recovery and allow for an ideal long-term therapy for stroke patients. With the goal of enhanced brain plasticity, these therapies aim to introduce intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli to assist with the reorganization of the brain’s structure, functions, and connections. 

The human brain has been demonstrated to be more plastic after experiencing an injury. With EE promoting improved stem cell survival and migration, and stem cell therapy creating the potential for an extended window of treatment, the combination is viewed as a potentially effective therapy when combined. 

Preclinical experimentation has demonstrated stem cell therapies to be effective days after an ischemic stroke occurs, providing a very important window of time for critical stroke treatment to occur. While this is certainly promising information, the authors also point out that there has been a disappointing and frustrating disconnect between these preclinical findings and what is observed in clinical experimentation.

Considering this, the authors identify determining the optimal clinical stem cell route of administration, dosage, and timing as key areas of study to better understand – and maximize – the therapeutic potential of stem cells in the treatment of ischemic stroke. 

While Berlet et al. calls for additional research into the ideal route of stem cell administration, type dosage, and timing to further confirm the efficacy of stem cell transplantation for the treatment of ischemic stroke, the authors conclude that the addition of stem cell therapy to rehabilitation has significant potential to create a conducive host microenvironment to facilitate the repair process.

Source: “Combination of Stem Cells and Rehabilitation Therapies for … – NCBI.” 6 Sep. 2021,

Regenerative Medicine Therapy for Stroke Using Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Regenerative Medicine Therapy for Stroke Using Mesenchymal Stem Cells

With nearly 15 million people affected worldwide each year, stroke continues to be the most prevalent cerebrovascular disease. Responsible for over 5 million deaths and another 5 million individuals suffering long-term disabilities, stroke also is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. 

Although there have been significant advances in both pharmacological and surgical therapies designed to treat the effects of stroke, effective therapy remains limited and primarily focused on managing the symptoms associated with a stroke rather than treating the causing factors or preventing the stroke at the onset.

Recently regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, and specifically mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based therapy has been identified as a potentially effective strategy for a wide range of diseases and health conditions, including stroke.

In this review, Li et al. examine current preclinical and clinical data from trials using MSCs in the treatment of stroke, the mechanisms underlying MSC-based therapy for stroke, and the challenges associated with the timing and delivery of MSCs.

Initial preclinical studies of the application of MSCs in the treatment of stroke demonstrated that transplantation of MSCs following ischemic stroke promoted improvement of cerebral function protected the ischemic neurons, and repaired brain damage. However, these studies were conducted in young and healthy subjects and failed to factor in the presence of comorbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension, more commonly observed in ischemic stroke patients. 

Considering that 75% of strokes occur in the elderly and/or those with the previously mentioned comorbidities, the authors of this review focused their review on studies that incorporated these two factors into their trials.

While these preclinical studies of MSC-based therapy for stroke demonstrated promising results, including improved blood-brain barrier integrity, increased white matter remodeling, and improved neural repair, the authors point out that there has been a limited number of preclinical studies conducted and call for additional preclinical studies specifically utilizing the comorbidity model.

Although treatment of stroke using MSCs has been established to be safe and feasible in phase I and II clinical trials, there have been mixed findings as to the therapy’s efficacy. As a result of these varied findings, the overall efficacy in the treatment of ischemic stroke remains controversial. The authors consider several reasons for the inconsistency of results observed in these trials, including the varied number of patients, doses, and type of cell delivery, the timing of the cell therapy, and the treatment modalities used in these trials; the authors also call attention to the different locations, extent, and severity of lesions used in these trials.

As a result of the inconclusive results surrounding the effectiveness of MSC-based therapy for the treatment of stroke in these clinical trials, the authors call for more optimized and well-designed large-sample multicenter studies to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of MSCs more thoroughly in ischemic stroke. 

While the underlying mechanisms of MSC-based therapy for stroke have not been fully explained or understood, a review of several studies has demonstrated that MSCs protect against stroke through multiple mechanisms, including direct differentiation, paracrine effects, and mitochondrial transfer.

Before MSCs can be widely applied in clinical practice, Li et al. highlight several challenges that need to first be considered. These challenges include determining the optimal time for MSC administration during the acute stroke stages, further understanding the best treatment, conditions, and strategies to maximize the regenerative potential of MSCs, identifying the simplest and safest route of MSC delivery, and identifying the best source of MSCs for stroke treatment.

The authors conclude this review by recommending future preclinical and clinical studies that consider the adoption of a well-designed randomized controlled study design and method rigor and intervention measures to determine the effect of MSC therapy in the treatment of stroke.  

Even with considering the above recommendations, MSCs continue to demonstrate exciting potential as a means to protect neurons and improve outcomes and overall quality of life for stroke patients. 

Source: “Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Stroke – NCBI.” 9 Feb. 2021,

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