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Restoration of Paralysis, can Stem Cells Help?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 19 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
Stem Cells Paralysis Muscles Facial


My friend had facial paralysis for a few years on the left side of his face. Due to it being lifeless for so long he has atrophic or dead muscles even though the nerve has grown back.

I was wondering why stem cells or maybe even injected skeletal muscle satellite cells from the working side of his face couldn't restore function or repair the unresponsive fibers on the paralyzed side?

(Mr Travis Henderson, 5 January 2009)


In theory, stem cells could restore function to your friend's face. However, despite the potential, science and medicine still have many challenges to overcome before this kind of stem cell therapy becomes a reality.

Facial Paralysis

To rehabilitate a person with facial paralysis is an immense challenge. To date, there is no 'perfect' treatment that allows for fully restored functioning of the facial muscles and nerves. Not only that, but each case is unique and has its own cause and issues for recovery. Also, the level of paralysis and the area of the face where paralysis occurs will similarly be unique for each patient. You can see how difficult it is to develop the ideal treatment that will work for everyone!

Some patients will suffer from a lack of movement in the face while others can actually experience excessive amounts. In this way, treating facial paralysis can be a multi-faceted approach. Your concern and interest in your friend's treatment is a wonderful thing that is shared by many researchers who are looking for ways to use stem cells to treat facial paralysis and its related consequences.

Using Stem Cells

There have been a number of studies that suggest stem cells have the potential to treat various kinds of paralysis. However, most studies have focused on nerve damage. One recent study on rats found that stem cells were able to bring back function and sensitivity. Studies on humans would be needed to confirm the findings and open the door to the treatment becoming a reality.

Another study found that stem cells were able to seek out injured muscle and essentially 'regenerate' the muscles. Stem cells that were injected into a person with injured muscles showed that the stem cells clustered in the area of injury and rapidly gave rise to healthy, functioning muscle cells.

Importance Of Safety

One key reason that a stem cell therapy for paralysis is not yet routinely used is that more testing needs to be done to assess the safety of the treatment. There is still a great deal we do not know about stem cells and the unpredictability factor is such that we need to see more successful experimental cases of stem cell therapy in paralysis victims.

Still, your friend is encouraged to stay alert to the newest developments in the area of stem cells because it is expected that stem cells may eventually be a routine treatment for facial paralysis – as well as other kinds of paralysis. Your support and interest in your friend's challenges will likely be a valuable addition as well.

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Hi my son is 27 year old. He's been diagnose with intellectual disability. He's a slow learner. I want to know is there any stemcell treatment in the areas of Autism.
lane - 19-Jul-19 @ 2:03 AM
I have been suffering from peripheral neuropathy for the past 3 years. My question is: can stc 30 cureperipheral neuropathy? Please reply.
Perefans - 23-Jun-19 @ 9:39 PM
I was diagnosed with a Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2005.My face is asymmetrical ony when I smileor . left side of the face is affected but not stiff.Some times I do get a little bit of twitching from the affected sideThere was a nerve damage. Can STC 30 help me.
Tee - 29-May-19 @ 12:27 PM
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Cutch - 5-Mar-19 @ 9:04 PM
i suffered a stroke in February 2017 and still have a paralysed arm.there has beensome trials in the UKresearching treatment for post stroke paralysis.Is this something you would be looking to do?If so, I would be very interested in joining the trial.Please would you let me know.
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montu - 21-Jul-17 @ 9:37 AM
I'm 35 yrs old now. 12-13 yrs ago I had brain surgery that blood clot that caused me to have a massive stroke and in a coma for 2 months. Now after a lot of rehab I can do most things but still hard to smile because one side of face is weaker. Would stem cell therapy help with the paralysis?
Missy - 27-May-17 @ 3:14 PM
My daughter suffered a light blow to her head as I child which resulted in 3rd nerve palsy, drooping eyelid and squint, could stem cell therapy fix this ?
Parky - 4-May-17 @ 10:05 AM
My right face is paralyzed due to AVM 8 years ago. I wear glasses when I go out the house because I can't even blink. Is the stem cell treatment can help me? And how much will it cost?
Jam - 1-May-17 @ 6:41 AM
I was born with facial paralysis on the right side of my face. .Are there any studies or procedures that would be helpful to me?
Stephany - 28-Apr-17 @ 2:39 PM
My sister was left paralyzed from her breast down during an anyism surgery . Her son's wife is pregnant with her grandchild and I was wondering if it may be possible for stem cell injections to help her
Lisa - 26-Mar-17 @ 10:23 PM
Dear Dr I wont to ask you about my illness i have an optical nerve in my eye and i wont to send you an email about my problem to ask you if there any solution for me
Mue - 4-Mar-17 @ 7:19 PM
My husband has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer about4 years ago.since then he has undergone 4 surgeries and lots of radiation. The radiation has caused him be paralyzed from the waist down. There was Alo damage to his perefeal nervous system. Not being able to use his legs is devastating to him.he was 35 when diagnosed. Currently we is saving money to do a stem cell transplant surgery in Mexico or Panama. Total cost being $10,000. Just wondering if there are any experimental trials he would qualify for.
AyéJai - 8-Feb-17 @ 6:49 AM
Hi I am a paraplegic (paralyzed) from my waist down. I would love to volunteer to try out these stem cells. I have hope to walk again, and I think this will be a great experience for me and my family.
Jackie - 8-Dec-16 @ 4:57 AM
I am interested in the ability to have stem cell research create life. I am trying to find a way for my partner and I to have a child that is both of our DNA. We want to always have our child be ours. Does anyone know of a stem cell case working.
Mrs.Purtell - 25-Nov-16 @ 3:31 AM
Hello, I am 36 years old and diagnosed with Umbilical Hernia. So my question is : Can my baby's stem cell be use to treat my Umbilical Hernia? Regards, Niharika
nikki - 14-Oct-16 @ 7:56 PM
Sir, I would like to know about double stemcell powder therapy.my mother is suffering blood clotting paralysis in near neck brain.can double stemcell powder therapy work for this.
Jay - 30-Sep-16 @ 6:47 AM
I was diagnosed with glaucoma last year and I am using eye drops at the moment. I am 45 years and not diabetic. How can I participate in clinical trials for cell storm implants/injection please. Regards
Wizzo - 29-Jul-16 @ 12:18 PM
My husband mr aslam Khan got paralysis attack on 3rd oct 2015. His rightside is effected and his speech is lost. At present through physiotherapy he ia able to walk but can't speak. In the mean time he suffered from epilepsy two times. He can read but can't write what he wants to tell.
Dabbu - 8-Jul-16 @ 3:58 PM
Dan - Your Question:
Hi there. I have optical nerve atrophy due to a head injury and brain swell. I am wondering if there are any trials that I could participate in to assist me in improving my lost sight.

Our Response:
You can see if the NHS undertakes such clinical trials via the link here and/or Euro Stem Cell here . I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 6-Jul-16 @ 10:19 AM
Hi there. I have optical nerve atrophy due to a head injury and brain swell. I am wondering if there are any trials that I could participate in to assist me in improving my lost sight.
Dan - 5-Jul-16 @ 12:08 PM
Munirah - Your Question:
I would like to know if stem cell treatment suitable for my mother and brother. They have diabetes type 2. If yes, please advise me which clinic is best provided this kind of treatment ?

Our Response:
I'm afraid stem cell treatment is still very much in the research stages and not yet available in the UK.
ExploreStemCells - 6-Jun-16 @ 1:47 PM
I would like to know if stem cell treatment suitable for my mother and brother. They have diabetes type 2. If yes, please advise me which clinic is best provided this kind of treatment ?
Munirah - 5-Jun-16 @ 6:35 PM
I am 24 years old ... My spinal cord injury is C-5 C6 ... Paralyzed from the chest down ..Willing tobe a volunteer for any stem cell trials / treatment
Mike - 7-May-16 @ 8:03 AM
I am considering nerve grafting but I know that the results vary on the amount of movement restored ; If I was to go ahead with cross face nerve grafting would this destroy my chances of having stem cell treatment in the future if it becomes available for facial paralysis patients?
Louise - 12-Mar-16 @ 9:04 PM
My son had a excessively large haematoma removed from behind his right ear when he was 3 going on 4, he is now 20; this left him with no facial expression on his right side. I was told the nerve had not been cut just bruised & it would come back but it has not.This has had such a devastating effect on my sons life as he got older, he dropped out of school. He told me recently there was a poster in the hall that said" A smile is a universal language" & I do not have one! He will not face anyone & shuts himself away & will not go out.He is a such a lovely person. Please can you help, this is such a sad waste of a very highly intelligent person with so much to give.
dolly - 10-Mar-16 @ 10:36 PM
On 30th Oct. 2009 due to High Blood Pressure I was admitted in Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, Pune.Thereafter on 31st Oct. 2009 a CRANITOMY operation was done and the cerebral portion of my right side of the brain was kept in my right thigh for about 1 month & thereafter again it was removed from my thigh and fixed on my head.That thereafter my left side hand and leg got partially paralyzed due to which I can’t move freely as I used to till date as it was suggested by doctors that during operation my cells of the cerebral portion has been damaged due to which the said paralyzation has happened suggest me whether it can be cured.
Raju - 28-Feb-16 @ 1:28 PM
Irishlad - Your Question:
I had a stroke back in 2005 and suffering from poor eyesight as well as no movement on my left hand side. I was wondering if it would be possible to be considered for stem cell research as would love to be able to do everything that I use to do before my stroke.

Our Response:
While there has been massive leaps in this area of stem cell research, a much larger trial that compares this stem cell treatment with the best available current care is further needed to prove its effectiveness, see link here. Therefore you may need to sign up to any clinical research projects being carried out. You can read more via the link here.
ExploreStemCells - 19-Feb-16 @ 11:59 AM
I had a stroke back in 2005 and suffering from poor eyesight as well as no movement on my left hand side. I was wondering if it would be possible to be considered for stem cell research as would love to be able to do everything that I use to do before my stroke.
Irishlad - 18-Feb-16 @ 3:03 PM
PB - Your Question:
I suffered Ramsey Hunt Syndrome in 1998 and lost most of the movement in the right side of my face. I had an operation in 2001 to take muscle and nerves from the right side of my torso and placed into the right side of my face. This procedure was not very successful and I am always looking for some hope to get movement back to my face on the right side. I would like to know if there are any trials available in the UK to see if stem cell treatment could make a difference. Thank you for any advice or information you can offer.

Our Response:
You can search NHS clinical trials via the link here. I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 9-Dec-15 @ 2:05 PM
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