A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, either by a burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) or a blockage in an artery (ischemic stroke, the most common type). Stroke damage often results because brain cells in the affected area, deprived of oxygen and nutrients, die or are severely injured. Common symptoms of stroke damage include impairments in speech, movement, sensation, and other functions most of us take for granted. Two-thirds of survivors have residual stroke damage, and the road to recovery is often rocky. After a few months of therapy and rehabilitation, patients are usually told that further progress is unlikely. However, regenerative medicine research suggests that improvements can be made months, even years after a stroke.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder caused by the degeneration of neurons in the area of the brain that manufactures dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in movement. As dopamine production drops, characteristic tremors and speech, balance, and motor problems develop. The primary treatment for Parkinson’s disease is drugs that replace or mimic dopamine. These medications do improve symptoms, but they do not slow disease progression, plus their adverse side effects increase with long-term use. Curbing the loss of brain cells and halting symptom progression are key goals in the management of Parkinson's disease.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that memory loss and cognitive impairment are a normal part of aging. It's true that most people do experience some age-related decline in these areas, but serious cognitive impairment that interferes with quality of life and activities of daily living is by no means normal. Rather, it's caused by degenerative processes in the brain--processes that can in some cases be prevented, retarded, and even reversed.
other neurological diseases
Neurological diseases encompass a wide range of disorders of the nervous system. Some are caused by injuries to the spinal cord or brain, or by problems with the brain's structure or electrical system. Many are progressive degenerative disorders. Examples include ALS, Huntington's disease, spinal muscular atrophy, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's. Because these neurological diseases affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, they may cause muscle weakness, coordination and movement problems, loss of sensation, confusion, cognitive and mood disturbances, and paralysis. Effective treatments for these conditions are limited at this time, which is why scientists and patients are exploring regenerative medicine.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the fatty myelin sheath that surround our nerve axons. This sheath is essential for proper functioning of nervous system signaling in the brain and spinal cord. As the myelin degrades, the central nervous system ceases to function properly, resulting in severe cognitive and physical impairment. Mesenchymal stem cells have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into nerve cells, as well as cells that create the myelin sheath around axons. Studies have noted myelin regeneration after deployment of stem cells, and patients have shown recovery of lost motor function, lending promise to stem
cell therapy as a treatment for MS. Stem cells also show anti-inflammatory and immune-regulatory properties that may also mitigate the progression of the disease.