Stem Cells & Football on Sunday

Stem Cells FootballI’m rooting on my hometown Seattle Seahawks (4-0) against the Indianapolis Colts this morning. What an amazing game so far.

You might think that a stem-o-phile (someone who is a fan of stem cells) can connect anything to stem cells.

And someone who is a fan of both stem cells and football can link them together if they work at it.

But it doesn’t take that much work.

The NFL is grappling with making the game safer, particularly as it relates to acute and chronic brain injuries to players. One approach is to reduce the number of brain injuries in the first place, but another area of hope is to use stem cell-based therapies in future decades to treat players. Last year the NFL donated $30 million to the NIH for research into brain injuries.

I believe that stem cells hold promise in the future for treating brain injuries and spinal cord injuries as well.

Of course another link between football and stem cells is the trend of NFL players getting non-compliant stem cell therapies, for example in Europe. The “poster child” for stem cell therapies amongst NFL players, according to the Washington Times newspaper in one of the worst mainstream media articles on stem cells of the year, is Peyton Manning. Neck injuries plagued Manning, who opted for dubious stem cell therapy in Europe.

Manning has since done well, but there’s no indication that the stem cell therapies had anything to do with it. Many other NFL players have gotten dubious stem cell treatments as well reportedly. I can understand that players might be inclined to take risks to treat serious injuries, but there are many risks and can be unintended consequences such as encouraging the ¬†parents of kid athletes to get potentially dangerous stem cell treatments as well.

By contrast, clinical trials for the use of stem cells in sports injuries are worthwhile so we can learn for sure how safe and effective they might be or not. There are 11 studies listed in the database for the search “Stem cells AND sports”. Keep in mind that clinical trials have risks too.


2 thoughts on “Stem Cells & Football on Sunday”

  1. Pingback: Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog – Stem Cells & Football on Sunday | Stu's Stem Cell Blog

  2. Who can say what the dangers of some unspecified stem cell treatment might be… One thing for sure, players are lucky to survive gladatorial sports without substantial injury. Knees, neck, elbows, ankles, ribs, jaws, shoulders, back, brains… Ouch!

    I can’t bear to watch.

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