IT'S THE NUMBER THREE CAUSE OF DEATH, BUT THE LEADING CAUSE OF DISABILITY IN THE UNITED STATES.
FOR MANY VICTIMS OF STROKE, SURVIVING IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING - WITH MANY LEFT FIGHTING TO REGAIN COMPLETE MOTOR FUNCTION FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
NOW DOCTORS ARE LOOKING AT A WAY TO REVERSE STROKE EFFECTS AFTER IT HAPPENS.
VALISA BLANTON KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT BEAUTY.
THE SINGLE MOM'S BEEN A HAIRDRESSER FOR 20 YEARS, BUT THAT ALL CHANGED LAST SPRING.
"I couldn't talk, was like 'ra ra ra...oh my God what's happening to me? I'm having a stroke.'"
VALISA LOST SOME MOTOR FUNCTION IN THE RIGHT SIDE OF HER BODY. TWO MILLION BRAIN CELLS DIE EVERY MINUTE DURING A STROKE. DOCTORS USE CLOT-BUSTING DRUGS TO HELP PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING. BUT NEUROSURGEON, DOCTOR GEORGE RAPPARD SAYS, AFTER THAT, THERE'S ONLY A 15 TO 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF IMPROVEMENT.
"We've been very limited in fixing a stroke once it's happened. All we have is physical therapy."
NOW A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND TRIAL IS TESTING THE USE OF A STROKE PATIENT'S OWN STEM CELLS TO RESTORE FUNCTION.
"They are a population of cells you retain in your body that have the ability to turn into other things."
DOCTORS THINK THE STEM CELLS MIGHT ACT AS INSTRUCTIVE CELLS, TELLING THE BRAIN HOW TO HEAL.
"We take the stem cells that your body normally uses to make red blood cells and separate those stem cells out of the bone marrow."
DOCTORS THEN INJECT THEM INTO THE AFFECTED SIDE OF THE BRAIN THROUGH THE GROIN.
IN MICE, THERE WAS A 40-PERCENT IMPROVEMENT IN MOTOR SKILLS.
"I think that's one of the most potentially exciting things in my field ever."
"I feel like my brain is like 'wow!'."
VALISA IS PART OF THE DOUBLE BLIND HUMAN STUDY. WHILE SHE DOESN'T KNOW IF SHE RECEIVED THE STEM CELLS OR NOT -- IT'S GIVEN HER HOPE TOWARD A FULL RECOVERY.
"40 and fabulous honey!"
THE PHASE ONE TRIAL INVOLVED 10 PATIENTS.
DOCTORS HOPE TO ENROLL AT LEAST 100 FOR PHASE TWO.
ONLY PATIENTS WITH ISCHEMIC STROKES WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CLINICAL TRIAL.
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