From injuries that can happen in an instant to normal wear-and-tear from physical activity over time, when there is something wrong with your joints or ligaments, it can cause discomfort and pain that can severely disrupt your way of life. Sometimes, the best way to correct these issues is through surgery, but many physicians will recommend trying alternative relief methods, such as stem cell therapy, prior to scheduling a surgical procedure. Stem cell therapies involve the transplantation of human cells to replace or repair damaged tissues or cells. It’s become more widely accepted and utilized in recent years and is a viable alternative to surgical intervention. The best thing course of action is to explore the benefits of both surgical and non-surgical interventions to determine the best fit for your particular situation.
Some injuries simply require surgery. A torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), or a full rotator cuff tear are examples of scenarios in which surgery may be the most viable option to repair the damage done to the body and fully recover. The benefits of surgery include:
- Medical reimbursement. Since most insurances cover procedures that are medically necessary, many patients can benefit from surgical procedures with minimal out-of-pocket expenses and therefore without any accompanying financial stress.
- A record of success. Since many necessary surgeries have been performed for decades, there is a great deal of evidence that confirms their effectiveness.
- Clear expectations. With experience comes knowledge, both surgeons and patients know what to expect with surgical procedures in terms of effectiveness, recovery time, and even the procedure itself.
In situations where surgery is the only option, the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks, or downsides, such as the level of invasiveness and the lengthy recovery time. However, there are instances in which surgery is not the clear-cut option, and patients would rather find an alternative to alleviate pain from an injury, or simply damage from wear-and-tear on the ligaments and joints in the body.
An Alternative to Surgical Intervention
Cell therapies involve the transfer of live cells into a patient to help treat, prevent, or potentially cure diseases. One category of cell therapy focuses specifically on the use of stem cells, or cells within the body that have the potential to replace those that are lost or damaged through disease, injury, or simple wear-and-tear over time. Stem cells and their descendants, progenitor cells, combined with other bone marrow cells and platelets, have the potential to restore function when injected directly into the patient’s damaged tissue. These versatile cells have the ability to replace problematic cells with new, healthy ones, giving patients around the world a second chance at a healthy, active life.
Stem cell therapies have become more widely used in the medical field in recent years. Though their viable medical use was discovered only a few decades ago, many people who lead healthy, active lifestyles have begun turning to this alternative form of medicine, including professional athletes.
Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate
Bone marrow, the spongy substance that fills the inner cavities of our bones, is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells, which have the unique ability to develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Producing a Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) involves aspirating the bone marrow from a patient’s body and then concentrating it to create the optimal level of stem cells and other crucial growth factors, offering a variety of health benefits that traditional surgical methods simply can’t duplicate.
The BMAC procedure is popularly used by physicians who practice orthopedic surgery, pain management and sports medicine. Although still in its investigative stages, it has been shown to repair tissue damage, preserving function and strength, and in some cases has even been used as an alternative to more invasive and intensive procedures such as knee replacement surgery. Professional athletes such as Basketball player Dwight Howard and Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens have been confirmed to have utilized this procedure to repair damaged tissues and minimize their time away from their respective sports.
The benefits of the BMAC procedure include:
- Minimally invasive. Though the procedure does require the removal of bone marrow from the patient’s hip which is then injected into the damaged tissue, it is not as intensive as surgical intervention.
- Reduced recovery time. The recovery period following the BMAC procedure is approximately 6 weeks, compared to 3-6 months after a surgery.
- Regenerative. This procedure uses stem cells from the patient’s own body to restore and regenerate damaged tissues.
Good candidates for the BMAC procedure include active, and otherwise healthy patients, according to Dr. Allison Schafer, a nonoperative sports medicine physician at the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute. Though the procedure is still somewhat new in the medical field, it has not been shown to increase the severity of pain or tissue damage in patients. On the contrary, its growing popularity supports its efficacy and effectiveness in providing patients much-needed relief.
Automated Technology for Bone Marrow Concentrate
The most efficient and effective route to providing high-quality BMAC is through automated processing. It is critical to minimize the amount of red blood cells (RBCs) in the initial bone marrow aspirate, as RBC contamination can impair cell function and diminish the overall effectiveness of the cell treatments. Though there are many bone marrow concentrate systems on the market, the ThermoGenesis PXP® System delivers high-quality, precise results that healthcare professionals can be confident in. The automated, closed-loop system is designed for sterile bone marrow separation and concentration, and is specifically engineered to eliminate RBCs, reducing the contamination rate by greater than 99 percent.
ThermoGenesis Holdings, Inc. (formerly Cesca Therapeutics Inc.), is a pioneer and market leader in the development and commercialization of automated cell processing technologies for the cell and gene therapy fields, helping doctors, researchers and clinicians do their job more confidently and effectively. They market a full suite of solutions for automated clinical biobanking, COVID-19 testing, point-of-care applications and large-scale cell processing and manufacturing with a special emphasis on the emerging CAR T immunotherapy market. They are committed to making the world a healthier place by creating innovative health solutions for everyone.
To see the entire full suite of cell and gene therapy automated solutions, please visit the shop portion of the website today.