In 2008, a German child, then just 2 years old, had a cardiac arrest that resulted in severe brain damage and a vegetative state. The situation seemed almost hopeless, with doctors quoting a six percent chance for just survival, let alone recovery. There is no known cure for cerebral palsy but the child’s parents proposed using stem cells in cord blood they had frozen as an experimental symptom treatment.
Doctors at the University Clinic of the Ruhr University of Bochum (UK RUB) began treatment nine weeks after the child’s cardiac arrest and regularly monitored his progress for forty months. According to a university report, following an unlikely recovery, “the child was able to eat independently, walk with assistance, and form four-word sentences”. While the doctors still hesitated to claim a causal relationship between treatment and recovery, researchers continue to explore the stem cell method.
Typically, cerebral palsy treatment involves consistent medical support for a patient’s entire life, whether it’s different kinds of therapy, medication, or a social worker helping with day-to-day activities. In 2013, Korean doctors claimed that they had successfully treated cerebral palsy using cord blood that was not originally taken from the patients. If stem cell therapy continues to develop and become more accessible, it could drastically change the futures of cerebral palsy patients.