Stem cell therapy for mentally ill? Docs divided
Could stem cell therapy improve the quality of life of intellectually- disabled people? Doctors from NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute say that this therapy is a relatively new and innovative one that helps to better the quality of life of patients affected with autism, cerebral palsy and other such neurological disorders. They claim that communication skills, learning abilities and other such qualities could improve through stem cell therapy.
Dr Alok Sharma, director, NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute, said: “Stem cell therapy is emerging as one of the newer treatment options for conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, muscular dytrophy and other neurological disorders. This treatment has the potential to repair the damaged neural tissue at the molecular, structural and functional level.”
The parents of Pratibha Kamath, a 26- year- old woman diagnosed with autism, are very happy with the results obtained by stem cell therapy ( SCT). She is on the path of self dependence, and the credit for it goes to this treatment, Pratibha’s parents said.
“She was diagnosed at the age of two years. We tried allopathy treatment, homeopa- thy treatment and reiki healing for Pratibha before coming to NeuroGen. After hearing about this treatment, we grasped this opportunity and started the procedure in September 2014. Now, her communication skills are better, she has learned Bharatnatyam and has performed on stage in front of almost 300 people, and she has also learned to play the sitar. She has become quite independent,” said her parents.
There have been quite a few cases like Pratibha’s, showing a significant improvement in the quality of life of such patients.
Dr Nandani Gokulchandran, deputy director and head of medical services of NeuroGen, said, “Before this therapy, brain damage during birth was irreversible. The causes could be genetic or otherwise. However, SCT helps repair damaged cells and, with the help of other rehabilitation treatments, it improves the quality of life of such patients.”
However some experts do not agree with such methods of treatment.
Dr Samir Dalwai, national chairperson, Indian Academy of Paediatrics, said, “There is no evidence that stem cell therapy is beneficial for autism. What works is multi- disciplinary documented and programme- based developmental intervention.”
Parul Kumtha, president, Forum for Autism, too, shared similar views.
“There is not enough to prove the efficacy of this therapy. Therefore, any family opting for this should be informed of the therapy and the patients should be offered this treatment for free or the clients should be offered money for participating in such research, as it is not yet FDA approved” Kumtha said.