EAGLE COUNTY - The term "regenerative medicine" was coined in 1992 to describe therapies and treatments to change the course of chronic diseases and regenerate worn-out tissues. Recent advances in biomedical science have brought regenerative medicine to the leading edge of techniques to restore physical function and performance after disease or injury occurs. Across the globe, scientists have successfully developed many forms of experimental cell-based approaches to regenerate damaged tissues, or even substitute whole organs.
While the bulk of clinical research is still underway, some notable treatments are already available to the public. Perhaps none are as exciting and full of promise as are the stem cell-based therapies. Across all medical fields, especially orthopedics and sports medicine, experimental stem cell approaches are maturing into validated clinical treatments.
When an injury occurs, stem cells respond to specific injury signals, and set about to accomplish healing by differentiating into specialized cells required for the body's repair. Unfortunately there are often insufficient numbers of stem cells to certain areas, for example in the knee joint due to its lack of blood supply. The end result in such areas can be an inadequate or compromised healing response.
The richest source of stem cells is your own body fat. Adult stem cells are found in all organs of the body but the adipose tissue by far holds the most healing potential. Using minimally-invasive "mini-liposuction" techniques, your own cells are harvested in a simple procedure, isolated in the lab and re-injected into the injured site the same day.
Dr. Scott Brandt of ThriveMD in Edwards, said the greatest application of stem cell therapies in orthopedics and sports medicine are injuries and conditions that have poor minimally-invasive operative solutions. He said chronic conditions in athletes and active adults that might be most effectively treated with stem cell therapy include cartilage injuries to the knee and shoulder, as well as osteoarthritis of most joints. Tendonitis of the Achilles or patellar tendons, tennis and golfer's elbow and rotator cuff conditions have shown great success with stem cell treatment, Brandt said.
Notable athletes have already made stem cell therapies for orthopedic injuries well known. Kobe Bryant and Bartolo Colon are both examples of professionals whose careers have been extended with these treatments, using little more than their own body tissues and attention to proper reconditioning following treatment.
ThriveMD and the Vail Athletic Club are working together for the return-to-sport programs essential to the proper remodeling of newly grown tissue from stem cells. Other goals of reconditioning are rebuilding strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory fitness, overall balance, neuromuscular control of joints, and core stability.
Brandt will be discuss this new approach to medicine Friday at 6 p.m., at the Vail Athletic Club in the Vail Mountain Lodge. Pre-registration is requested and a suggested $15 donation will go to the Educational Foundation of Eagle County. To reserve a spot, call 970-476-7960.
For more information on stem cell therapies, contact ThriveMD at www.thrivemdvail.com or 766-VAIL.