Stem Cell Treatment: Can The Revolutionary Treatment Repair Severe Spinal Injuries?
James Mason lost the ability to move his arms and legs after an accident in 2013. Mason's stepfather, Bob Gambuti, became his personal caregiver and admitted he was heartbroken the first time he saw his stepson paralyzed in bed. Fortunately for Mason and many others like him, an experimental procedure has been shown to restore function and movement in quadriplegic patients.
Worth The Risk
The revolutionary treatment consists of opening up the neck, removing the patient's vertebra and injecting stem cells into the damaged area of the spinal cord. Gambuti was initially reluctant to let Mason participate in the clinical trials, but constant reassurance from doctors at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital ultimately changed his mind.
CBS News reported that Mason was among the 6 patients who underwent the stem cell procedure sometime in late 2015. He began feeling senses on his wrists just 3 months after the delicate neck surgery and in 6 months, he could already feel pressure on his legs.
"I think it's almost doubled with how much I've gotten better and got sensation back into my feet," said Mason. "I can feel pressure onto 'em, throughout my legs. And they've noticed that I have a little bit of movement into my hips now."
Procedure Shows Promise
According to News Hub, 3 other patients who participated in the clinical trial also experienced significant improvements in their motor strength and function. Doctors who are still closely monitoring the patients believes the procedure played a huge role in their slight recovery.
"My two cents is it worked, that this actually changed his neurological recovery and function," Dr. Arthur Jenkins explained. "His (Mason) functional improvement is from the stem cells that were injected."
It Wasn't Gambuti's Fault
Mason injured his neck in 2013 when Gambuti tried to stop him from getting into a car drunk. Gambuti pulled on his stepson's leg causing him to dive neck-first into the pavement. Mason reiterated that he does not blame Gambuti for his injury. In fact, he even thanks his stepfather for intervening.
"If I had gotten into my car, I could have killed someone else, someone's mother, someone's father, someone's child," Mason thought. "If I would have survived through that, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself."