First paralyzed human treated with stem cells has now regained his upper body movement

Cristopher Boesen may have considered himself lucky to survive a serious car accident, but his life changed forever anyways.

Boesen lost control of his vehicle while driving and collided with a tree and a lamp post. The crash didn’t claim his life, although it left him paralysed from the neck down. Doctors were afraid he would never be able to control what his body did again.

He was then offered an experimental treatment involving stem cells. It was a procedure designed to repair damaged nerve tissue by replacing the cells. There was no promises made, no guarantees given, but Kristopher wanted to try.

And so he went ahead with the treatment, led by Charles Liu, MD, Ph.D., director of the USC Neurorestoration Center. Lui’s surgical team joined forces with Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and Keck Medicine of USC, and an experimental dose of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells was injected into Kristopher’s cervical spinal cord.

A dedicated group of nurses, doctors, rehab specialists and other medical professionals helped Kristopher as he prepared for the therapy. He had to be able to provide voice confirmation of his willingness to take part in the study, along with being able to breathe without his ventilator.

The weaning process usually takes around three weeks, but Kristopher was able to push through it in five days. He signed the paperwork, did the necessary scans and all the pre-surgery tests. He was even jumping into a great unknown by undergoing the surgery. No one was certain sure what the results would be.

As Dr. Lui said, patients usually undergo surgeries to stabilize their spine, with the process not usually restoring much motor or sensory function to the area.

And yet the procedure Kristopher underwent produced practically remarkable effects. After just three weeks, Kristopher noticed an improvement. Within eight weeks his motor functions had improved, and he could do things like answer the phone and move his wheelchair.

After Three months, Kristopher could brush his teeth, work a computer, and had great mobility back in his arms and hands.

Kristopher was given something many victims of such accidents spend their lives in search of. Hope. The positive results of the stem cell surgery have changed his life for a second time.

Kristopher’s aim is to now one day be able to walk again. Doctors haven’t made him any promises regarding improvements he might make in the future, but they will keep on working towards a future wherein issues such as the one Kristopher faces can be fixed.

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