It is one of the worst things an athlete can experience in the midst of competition: a serious injury that results in damage to bones, cartilage or joints. These kinds of injuries can easily end an athlete’s career before it ever gets started. And among those driven by a highly competitive nature, a devastating injury can mean the end of everything the athlete has ever dreamed of. Thank goodness for stem cell therapy.
There is no single treatment capable of getting every athlete back in the game. But thanks to an abundance of research over the years, stem cell therapy is helping a lot of athletes recover from serious injuries without surgery or other invasive means.
Stem cell therapy for sports treatments is growing quickly enough that Apex Biologix now provides stem cell training for doctors who want to begin offering it in their own offices. Based in Salt Lake City, ApexBiologix.com has already helped to facilitate more than 200 clinics across the country expanding to include stem cell and platelet rich plasma therapies.
Stem Cells for Damaged Cartilage
One of the most successful treatments relating to stem cell therapy is promoting the healing of damaged cartilage. It turns out that cartilage is simple tissue composed entirely of a single type of cell and without the need for an extremely large blood supply. However, the blood supply cartilage does receive is key to its healing.
Adult stem cells harvested from bone marrow can be injected into the site of known cartilage damage to promote natural healing in conjunction with the site’s normal blood supply. The combination of stem cells and the growth factors in the blood go to work to heal the damaged tissue.
Stem Cells for Damaged Bone
Bone tissue has always been intriguing to the medical community because of its ability to regenerate throughout a person’s lifetime. It is one of the few kinds of tissue that, under normal conditions of good health, seems very robust in its ability to self-repair. That makes bone a great candidate for stem cell therapy.
Unlike cartilage, bone tissue is made up of two different kinds of cells. Chondrocytes are the same types of cells that make up cartilage. In bone, they provide the bridge between the outside surface of the bone and the cartilage it is attached to. Osteoblasts are the cells that make up the hard surface of the bone. Stem cell therapy can be used to promote the natural regeneration of both.
Stem Cells for Damaged Tendons
Tendons are the flexible, fibrous tissues that connect the bones and muscles. It is the tendons that allow force from the muscles to be transferred to the bones to complete movement. When tendons are strained or damaged, they can easily take an athlete out of the game.
Tendons are made up of numerous kinds of cells; the ones doctors are interested in for healing sports injuries are tenocytes. Research has shown that stem cell therapy can help promote healing to damaged tendons, though the mechanism is not clear at this point. It could be that stem cells directly generate new tenocytes, or it could be that they simply create an environment that is more conducive to tenocytes reproducing on their own.
Any way you look at it, stem cell training for doctors is becoming increasingly more attractive because the medical community is coming to understand how beneficial stem cell therapy can be for sports injuries. We are also discovering that it can be useful to treat numerous problems ranging from osteoarthritis to wounds.