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Concussions can lead to serious long term damage but stem cells might help


What is it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussion is “a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head or brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells”.  This injuries are more common in athletes and in the military.

There are still a lot of definitions int the scientific world and the mechanisms of the injury are yet not fully understood. This has made research difficult, but some advances have been seen in recent years.

One of the main worries about concussion comes when patients are exposed to repetitive injuries, as chronic traumatic encephalopathy is thought to be caused by this condition.

Concussions are serious

Even though concussions are usually non life threatening, they can have serious consequences on the patients life. You could have: headache, short loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting or fatigue. Symptoms usually last for 10 to 14 days, and tend to resolve on their own, but in some cases may persist for months and compromise your daily living, and that is called postconcussion syndrome. There is currently no specific treatment for concussion; medication is offered only in specific cases to try to decrease symptoms, but they are generally avoided because they can mask important clinical signs, increasing risks for patients for new concussions, mainly in athletes.

Diagnosis of concussion is made by clinical evaluation after patients suffers the head bump or blow. Neurological imaging is done to rule out hemorrhage or other injuries, but there is still no specific test to diagnose concussion. Functional nuclear magnetic resonance, positron emission tomography and other blood tests are under research.

Stem cell treatment

Mesenchyaml stem cell treatment has shown great results in patients with traumatic brain injury even when severe, helping patients regain functionality and improving symptoms such as headache and cognitive dysfunctions.

Therapy is applied intrathecally by an expert neurosurgeon in a procedures room. When anesthesia is needed, it is only locally applied. This therapy last for 20 to 30 minutos, but after injections patients need to lay down for at leas tan hour so the cells travel across the spinal fluid. After the first hour, they are able to go to the hotel room but are encouraged to stay laying down for another 5 to 6 hours.

Patients may feel some headache, dizziness, sore throat or flu like symptoms after the application that usually lasts for 2 to 3 days and then goes away. Paracetamol is the medication of choice to treat these symptoms. Antiinflamatories are discouraged, as they can interfere with the cell action inside your body.

Results are not seen immediatly after application. Usually, a time between 1 to 3 months is needed before seeing any changes but there have been patients that refer getting better earlier than that.

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