He received the experimental therapy in 2012. It didn’t restore him to normal, but he now reports biking “quite a distance” and playing pingpong, his left leg finally strong enough to pivot around the table.
“Day to day, that’s had a pretty big impact just to be able to walk that much better,” Clark said. “It’s been a significant difference. I was hoping for more improvement when I first did it, but yeah, I’m definitely still pleased with it.”
Researchers around the country are exploring different ways to spur the regeneration of various body parts, and many focus on injecting stem cells or tissues grown from them. Wednesday’s approach is more novel.
“This strategy obviously has some merit,” said professor George Christ of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who wasn’t involved with the new study. While larger studies must verify the findings, “the concept of physical therapy coupled with these regenerative strategies is going to be really important.”
The Pittsburgh study is continuing, and Badylak would like to test as many as 50 more patients. He said that the technique probably would work better after a recent injury but that researchers needed to begin with old injuries to prove that physical therapy alone couldn’t explain the muscle regrowth.
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