Will Boy’s CP Treatment Become the New Standard?

cp treatmentCerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor function disability in childhood. It affects about y two babies in every 1,000. It is a permanent condition with no known cure. Children with cerebral palsy may have trouble with motor functions, balance, coordination, and speech. Although treatments are available to help improve a child with CP’s condition, they typically focus on lessening symptoms. Now, however, physicians are experimenting with the use of umbilical cord blood cells to reverse the effects of cerebral palsy.

Drew Kijek: a “Living Miracle”

Before his life-changing treatment, Drew was like many other children with cerebral palsy. He suffered from a severe lack of balance and other motor function disabilities. Up to age 11, Drew could not sit up on his own or even hold his head up for longer than a few seconds. During an interview about Drew, his parents said, “If he tried sitting and we let him go for even a split second, he would tip over because he didn’t have any balance.”

His parents explained Drew’s frustrations about being “trapped in a body that doesn’t work.” Prior to the treatment, Drew suffered tremors, muscle spasms, and the inability to express his thoughts. His mother described his conditions as his brain and muscles not working together. Drew wanted to do all the things most young boys do, but lacked the motor coordination to do them. A lot of that changed, however, after Drew participated in the first-ever Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trial of an umbilical cord blood stem cell infusion.

Drew’s Umbilical Cord Blood Infusion

The goal Drew’s parents had for the infusion was simple: for Drew to feel more comfortable in his body. What they received surpassed their greatest expectations. Drew underwent an umbilical cord blood infusion at the Georgia Health Science University at age 11. During the procedure, doctors took Drew’s own umbilical cord blood (harvested and banked when he was born) and injected it into an area that required healing. The injection immediately prompted healing, leading to new cells replacing damaged and unhealthy ones.

The results for Drew were impressive, to say the least. Although he didn’t show any signs of improvement after the first session, after round two of the injections, progress appeared quickly. Suddenly, Drew sat up unaided for the first time in his life – a moment the Kijek’s caught on a home video camera. From there, things only got better. Drew can sit independently, use his hands for things he couldn’t before, hold his head up, and multitask. Drew’s physical therapist says she couldn’t believe her eyes; in 10 years of practice, she’s never seen anything like it. Drew’s therapist and his mother both call it a miracle.

The Future of Umbilical Cord Blood Infusions

Drew was one of the first children in the world to receive the umbilical cord blood stem cell procedure, but he won’t be the last. This treatment option is becoming more popular as more children experience similar amazing results. During one trial involving 17 participants, 73% showed significant improvement after the infusion. The most pronounced improvement was in muscle spasticity. Parents also reported improvement in cognitive function, bowel and bladder control, mobility, and independent activity.

Umbilical cord blood infusions don’t require surgeries and they aren’t painful. Patients are awake for the entire treatment, which involves an intravenous injection of the patient’s own stem cells. The groundbreaking improvements many patients have seen with this procedure bode well for the future of this innovative cerebral palsy treatment. It may not be a “cure,” but it comes close for many children living with CP. Cord blood infusions like the one that changed Drew’s life could become the new standard around the world.