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.
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.