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Spinal Cord patient reacts to stem cell breakthrough

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Spinal Cord Injury: ,

WESTLAKE, Ohio —  Cutting edge research being developed in Cleveland could have significant impact on people who’ve suffered spinal cord damage.

In July of 2009, Scott Fedor dove off a dock and damaged his spinal cord.  It left him paralyzed from the neck down. While life hasn’t been easy, he’s grateful he lives in the medical mecca of Cleveland.

“Some of the surgeries I had for some of the different devices that are being created and studied with the consortium of hospitals, I’ve been able to benefit from a lot of the technology taking place in Cleveland,” Scott says.

He had a Diaphragm Pacing device implanted at University Hospitals that strengthened his respiratory function so much he was able to eventually have it removed, which helps him breathe on his own.

He also had the Cough Assist device implanted at MetroHealth that helps clear his airways of secretions so he can breathe without depending on lifesaving measures.  So when he heard Athersys  invented a stem cell therapy that may one day help spinal cord patients immediately after accident, he could help but be hopeful.

Despite the fact that this current science wouldn’t benefit patients like him.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of learning that can be applied down the road to helping chronic situations such as myself and others who have been living with some type of paralysis,” Scott said.

The treatment, called MultiStem, suppresses the body’s immune system from causing additional inflammation that can be permanently damaging in a neurological injury. For the last five years, it’s been tested in human stroke patients and shows promise, but it’s still not FDA approved. Although lab animal studies yielded promising results, human spinal cord patients still need to be tested. Scott says he can’t help but have faith.

“I’m doing what I want to do. I’m just doing it from a chair for the time being and who knows if things continue to advance, who knows I might be doing it from my feet pretty soon,” he says.

So for now he’s aiming to help others.  He’s a motivational speaker and started a non-profit called Getting Back Up  that helps spinal cord patients pay for therapy and other required needs. The foundation depends on donations.

By Monica Robins, WKYC

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