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Strictly Science-Based

Published August 20, 2014 6:28 PM by Jason Marketti
Stem cell research is not a new topic but can be controversial for some. Often it is the embryonic stem cells that get people upset, but there are other stem cells out there that research and biotech companies are looking into for healing and helping people recover from devastating illnesses.

As a purely scientific reading, stem cells are fascinating. You often have to put aside your personal and/or religious beliefs and read the information as if you are researching a topic from school. That, for some, is the hard part. For those who have difficulty with this, remember there were ecclesiastical authorities in the past who made decrees to ban surgery, a practice that's now routine and we actually know enough about to educate patients on. 

Total-joint replacements of hips and knees, titanium cages around the spine that allow people to get up and walk again with less pain and more mobility, it's like an Isaac Asimov sci-fi story. But it's real life and we treat those patients routinely so they can heal and recover from their surgery. Few people make a big deal about putting metal into a human body or electrodes when using a spinal cord stimulator and pacemaker, but mentioning the use of cells that can reproduce into other cells and, well, it becomes a political, moral and religious issue for some.    

Would it be any different if the patients you were treating received stem cells and could now walk or move easier or feel less pain because of the medical treatment? Could you be happy for them and cheer them on with their recovery? Would you still treat the patients even though they received medical treatment you personally or religiously cannot fathom? Remember, you have thoroughly studied the human body inside and out, some have touched a cadaver, and you know the regions of the brain and what part controls where. Wasn't this type of study considered barbaric at one time?

When doing research for any medical advances, we have to look at the information from a different point of view. A clinical mindset and an understanding of scientific data will help. Similarly, when treating patients who have different ideas from our own, we have to put aside those differences and work toward a common goal, to heal people and get them well. 

Some additional reading on human-induced pluripotent stem cells, bone marrow stem cells, and human spinal cord stem cells among others may help you understand what stems cells can do for patients and us, as clinicians, treating them.

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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