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Cerebral palsy is a difficult condition to treat and an even harder one to fully comprehend. The hope for a cure lies in getting a better understanding of cerebral palsy, but it’s important to understand that the current goal of most research is to learn new ways to reduce symptoms and limit brain damage.
Currently, efforts to find a cure rest solely with stem cell therapy.
Stem cell transplantation for cerebral palsy is still in the early phases. More research is needed to determine how effective it could be. However, there are some clinical trials testing the effectiveness of using umbilical cord blood infusions to introduce stem cells into the body.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain’s motor control center, which consists of several parts of the brain and billions of different brain cells. Understanding how all the networks of cells in these parts of the brain work together is the reason treating CP is so hard.
Stem cells can develop into specific types of brain cells, replacing those which are damaged. Theories suggest that stem cells placed into a person’s body can stimulate a response that mends damaged cells or that the stem cells can be used to create new brain cells in a lab to replace the damaged cells.
The goal of stem cell transplantation is to protect and repair these damaged cells before they are completely useless, causing permanent damage. This could reduce the extent of mobility issues in children with CP.
Contention is strong in the scientific community over the efficacy of stem cell transplantation, but most experts agree that further research is required. Even though stem cell therapy may not offer a cure, it is possible that it may reduce symptoms and increase mobility for people with cerebral palsy.
For the time being, treatment of cerebral palsy is most effective when it’s geared toward managing movement problems and other symptoms.
Clinical trials are how new theories are tested, making them an important part of developing a cure. Clinical trials are designed to minimize the risk of side effects, which is why trials are broken up into phases. The early phases test the safety of the procedure while later phases test the efficacy. Clinical trials are commonly used to test stem cell therapy in cerebral palsy.
Many clinical trials are testing cord blood stem cell infusions to treat cerebral palsy. Cord blood has been successfully used to treat blood diseases, such as leukemia, but hasn’t been deemed useful for other types of diseases yet.
To learn more about how clinical trials, try downloading our free Cerebral Palsy Guide. This guide includes over 60 pages of in-depth information for children and parents of a child with CP.
Kimberlee is a writer and researcher who is passionate about helping children with disabilities enjoy a happy, healthy life. She works closely with our attorneys to create content that educates the families and caretakers of children with cerebral palsy.