Researchers Successfully Regrow Damaged Muscle in Severely Injured Patients

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 1, 2014 4:22 PM EST

Researchers at University of Pittsburgh were able to rebuild damaged muscles of severely injured patients. They used "scaffold" - a pig's bladder - which draws the stem cells of the body toward the injured site and helps those cells become new muscle cells.

The Science Translational Medicine published the details of the study where five injured men were treated using experimental techniques. Those men lost muscles in the injured body part, such as thigh. The percentage of loss in their injured body part was anywhere between 60 and 90 per cent, which was why they were not able to move their legs properly.

Three out of the five patients experimented upon worked in the military. One of them damaged his leg muscle during exercise while the other two had blast injuries during combat. The other two patients were civilians suffering serious leg injuries during skiing accidents. Each of the patients spent months or years in rehab while multiple surgeries were performed on them.

Dr Stephen Badylak is deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. CTV News quoted him saying that those five patients went through "hell." Dr Badylak said that people would take certain actions for granted. Those patients found it difficult to perform actions like "getting out of a chair, taking steps, stepping off a curb, getting out of a car", which were generally considered normal.

According to Dr Badylak, the young individuals in their 20s and 30s struggled so much that some of them once considered being amputated. The stem cell therapy improved their walking abilities and other normal functions. They are scheduled to go through extensive rehab programme. The therapy partially restored the normal appearance of their limb as well.

Each patient had to complete an extensive physical therapy programme for 12 to 16 weeks before they underwent the implant surgery. The therapy programme was customised for dealing with individual functional issues.

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