Stem cell therapy remains one of the more promising treatments for reducing damage and improving recovery after traumatic brain injury. Despite its potential, there remains a limitation in both research efforts and acceptance by the general public. Continued communication about stem cell therapy may correct both of these limitations. The following is a review of how stem cell therapy can specifically reduce damage after a brain injury.
Stem cells can be transplanted into the brain to form either neurons or the supporting brain cells known as glial cells. Transplanted stem cells can reverse damage by:
1. Facilitating the growth of a "bridge" in lesion areas
2. Providing new neurons that repair damaged circuits
3. Producing neurotrophic factor, a substance important for neural recovery
Stem cells can also be stimulated within the brain, which requires an injection of growth factor to enhance their growth and migration. This provides a more widely acceptable method of stem cell therapy, but needs quite a bit more research to understand how well it works for recovery after brain injury.
Ugoya SO & Tu J. Bench to bedside of neural stem cell in traumatic brain injury. Stem Cells International. (October 2012).