Stem cell injections have been increasingly used in the treatment of tendon and meniscus injuries, with varying degrees of success depending on the initial injury, the type of cells injected and the rehabilitation protocol following treatment. Any surgical intervention comes with an element of downtime, but just how much down time is suitable is a common misconception amongst patients following stem cell injections.
Recommendations for rest following stem-cell injections vary from 4 weeks rest up to 12 weeks rest, however the additional effect of deconditioning can inhibit the rehabilitation of injuries whilst time is set aside allowing the stem cells to take. Research suggests that moderate exercise combined with stem cell therapy provides the optimal outcome for conditions such as meniscus repairs with improved regeneration, reduced inflammation and reduced need for prescription-based medications. Further to this, rehabilitation protocols have been identified as most effective when commencing four weeks post-treatment.
Initial stage rehabilitation incorporating Exercise Physiology for lower limb injuries should incorporate two sessions of hydrotherapy per week using only the patients body weight. The second month of rehabilitation should continue to build incorporating hydrotherapy with additional load, progressing towards body weight only land-based exercise with three sessions completed per week. The final phase of rehabilitation should incorporate four sessions of exercise per week for months three and four with two hydrotherapy sessions completed per week and two land-based sessions completed per week.
Delays in the commencement of such rehabilitation protocols can negatively impact the outcomes of stem-cell surgery. Each patient’s injury and previous experience with exercise is different. Treatment from an Exercise Physiologist incorporating the above protocol can ensure the best possible outcome.
BSc – ExHealthSc, GraddipSc – ExRehab, MSc – HumMvt
Exercise Rehabilitation Manager – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSA)
Gibbs, N., Diamond, R., O Sekyere, E., & Thomas, WD. (2015). Management of knee osteoarthritis by combined stromal vascular fraction cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma, and musculoskeletal exercises: a case study. Journal of Pain Research, 8, 799-806.