I ran across an article showing some "stunned" researchers. As the story mentions, it's a small number of people in a single study, but it might show some direction for future, larger research projects.
So read - and especially the caveats - how Stanford researchers "stunned" by stem cell experiment that helped stroke patient walk:
The one-time therapy involved surgeons drilling a hole into the study participants' skulls and injecting stem cells in several locations around the area damaged by the stroke. These stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow of adult donors. While the procedure sounds dramatic, it is considered relatively simple as far as brain surgery goes. The patients were conscious the whole time and went home the same day.
They suffered minimal adverse effects such as temporary headaches, nausea and vomiting. One patient experienced some fluid buildup from the procedure that had to be drained but recovered fully from the issue. The volunteers were then tested at one month, six and 12 months after surgery using brain imaging and several standard scales that look at speech, vision, motor ability and other aspects of daily functioning.
Gary Steinberg, the study's lead author and chair of neurosurgery at Stanford, said in an interview that while he is cautious about "overselling" the results of such a small study, his team has been "stunned" that seven of the 18 patients experienced significant improvement in their abilities following treatment.
"Their recovery was not just a minimal recovery like someone who couldn't move a thumb now being able to wiggle it. It was much more meaningful. One 71-year-old wheelchair-bound patient was walking again," said Steinberg, who personally performed most of the surgeries.
He also recounted the progress of a much younger patient, age 39, who was two years post-stroke and had had such problems walking and speaking that she "did not want to get married to her boyfriend."
"She was embarrassed about walking down the aisle," he explained. But after treatment, Steinberg said, "She's now walking much better and talking much better and she's married and pregnant."(Photo from Joseph Elsbernd via Flickr)