UTHealth enrolls first U.S. patient in novel stem cell trial to treat stroke disability

The first U.S. patient to participate in a global study of a stem cell therapy injected directly into the brain to treat stroke disability was enrolled in the clinical trial this week at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

“At McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, we have been studying cellular therapies as a novel treatment for stroke over the past 10 years. We are very excited to partner with ReNeuron and enroll the first patient into the PISCES III study,” said Sean I. Savitz, MD, the study’s global principal investigator and professor and director of the Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease at UTHealth. “This study represents an important next step in the development of novel cellular therapies for chronic stroke and, to date, is the most advanced clinical trial to determine whether neural stem cells improve recovery in patients chronically disabled by stroke.”

Full story at news-medical.net

Triathlete, Legally Blind, Returns to Running After Injury, Thanks to Physical Therapy (Did We Mention He’s 73?)

When Charlie Plaskon says he’s committed to removing the “dis” from “disability,” believe him. Those aren’t just empty words—it’s the way he lives his life. And it’s the drive that moved Plaskon, legally blind since childhood, to take up running at age 55 and then overcome a series of injuries—including a severe back injury—with the help of a physical therapist (PT). Now 73, Plaskon is back on track, and ready to add more races to the more than 50 marathons and 8 ironman triathlons he’s already completed.

Now available on Move Forward Radio: Charlie Plaskon’s story of how he came to fall in love with running and triathlon sports, how he faced the devastating possibility that an injury would prevent him from ever doing those things again, and how his PT helped him reconnect with the try-harder attitude that sustained him throughout his life. Plaskon is also the subject of a brief video created by APTA.

Full story of Charlie Plaskon at APTA

NYT: Racial Disparities in Pain Treatment

As if the national conversation over how pain is treated isn’t already complex enough, The New York Times (NYT) points out another important facet of the problem: regardless of where approaches may be heading in the future, pain treatment as it stands now is far from equal among racial minorities and whites.

“Finding Good Pain Treatment Is Hard. If You’re Not White, It’s Even Harder” combines interviews with research findings to highlight what NYT describes as a “persistent” problem: “Minorities tend to receive less treatment for pain than whites, and suffer more disability as well.” Among the findings reported in the story:

  • Blacks have been affected by the prescription opioid epidemic at “much lower rates” than whites.

Full story of racial disparities in pain treatment at APTA

Self-Reported Quality of Life Among Adolescents With Cerebral Palsy Similar to Peers Without Disability

In what authors describe as “some of the most reliable evidence on how adolescents with cerebral palsy feel about life,” a new study from Europe reports that in general, self-reported quality of life (QoL) among this population isn’t that much different from their peers without disability, but could be even better with greater attention paid to pain early on.

Researchers gathered responses to a survey (KIDSCREEN) issued to the same group of 355 individuals with cerebral palsy at 2 different points in their lives—as children aged 8 to 12 (average respondent age 10.4) and then later as adolescents aged 13 to 17 (average respondent age 15.1). The study compared the responses against results from adolescents without a disability and longitudinally within the respondents with cerebral palsy. An article describing the results was e-published ahead of print in the October 7 issue of The Lancet.

Full story of life with cerebral palsy among adolescents at APTA

APTA: Disability Rights Convention Should Be Approved

APTA has added its voice to the long list of supporters of an international treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities, stating that it fits squarely within the association’s vision of transforming society. The letter of support from APTA coincided with rallies held on Capitol Hill to press Senate passage of the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities (CRPD) that would establish protections against discrimination and support equal access to education, among other basic human rights.

The UN drafted the CRPD in large part as a response to nations that, unlike the US, do not clearly articulate the rights of persons with disabilities. “Because of discriminatory practices, persons with disabilities tend to live in the shadows and margins of society, and as a result their rights are overlooked,” write the convention’s authors. “A universal, legally binding standard is needed to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are guaranteed everywhere.”

Full story of disability rights convention at APTA

Focus on Specific Interventions May Limit New Study Questioning Effectiveness of Physical Therapy on Hip OA

A new study comparing physical therapy with a sham procedure in the treatment of hip osteoarthritis pain and disability contains some interesting findings—and some notable limitations.

The research, published in the May 21 issue of JAMA, followed the progress of 102 individuals with diagnosed hip osteoarthritis (OA) and accompanying pain and disability, half of whom received physical therapy treatments and home exercises “typical of current practice,” and half of whom received a “sham” procedure involving application of an inactive gel. The results, according to the authors, showed that physical therapy was not more effective than the sham treatment at any evaluation point during the study.

Full story of effectiveness for hip OA at APTA

New Review Says Virtual Reality, Gaming for Individuals Poststroke Provide ‘Moderate Advantage’ Over Conventional Therapy

In a study they describe as the first to incorporate analyses of International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Heath (ICF) data, researchers make a cautious assertion that for individuals poststroke, the use of virtual reality—including commercially available video game systems—produces “a significant moderate advantage” in ICF outcomes compared with conventional therapies.

The findings were the result of an analysis of 26 randomized controlled trials that focused on the use of virtual reality (VR) to augment or replace conventional therapy in populations largely or solely comprising individuals poststroke. Of the studies analyzed, 4 focused on the use of commercially available gaming platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, while the rest used more specialized virtual environment (VE) equipment designed for rehabilitation. The study was published in the March 28, 2014, edition of PLoS ONE.

Full story of virtual reality gaming for stroke patients at APTA