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‘Unproven treatment of spinal injuries can cause paralysis’

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The rampant unauthorised and unproven stem cell transplant for spinal cord injury can leave a person paralysed below the level of injury, health experts said Thursday.

Issuing a statement to caution people about such practices and create awareness on the issue, the Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSI) said: “There is an urgent need to create awareness on the issue, and advise the spinal cord injured and their families to make informed decisions regarding the plethora of ‘effective’ stem transplant treatments being offered across the world.”

“Over the past decade, various clinics in India and abroad have started offering experimental treatments, often involving transplants of stem cells, which are advertised as having beneficial effects, even though there is little or no evidence supporting such claims,” said ASSI president Ram Chaddha.

He added these stem cells transplant procedures attempt to establish credibility by citing experimental studies that have no direct relation to the spinal cord injuries.

Sajan Hegde, consultant spine surgeon at Apollo Hospital who also heads its orthopaedics department, said the only accurate way to determine that a treatment is beneficial is to carry a properly designed study with an appropriate control group.

“It is important to conduct valid clinical trials to evaluate whether stem cell and cellular transplant can be offered as a valid option after the spinal cord injury. Some properly conducted trials are now being under taken, but it is advisable to wait for the results from these objective studies,” he said.

IANS | New Delhi

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