Stem cell therapy gives paralyzed man second chance at independence

Four days after undergoing major surgery, 21-year-old Kris Boesen picked up a smartphone and sent a text. It was the first message that he had sent in months.

But what was truly remarkable was that a man who was once almost completely paralyzed was holding a phone at all.

It hadn’t always been like this. One night in March changed Boesen’s life. He was driving along a winding stretch of wet road in Maricopa, California, when his white Nissan 350Z fishtailed out of control. The sports car careened into a curb, a tree and then a telephone pole, breaking Boesen’s neck. After the accident, Boesen could only move his left arm up and down, and his hands were stuck in a clenched position. He couldn’t hold a fork to feed himself or use his arms to operate a wheelchair. He couldn’t use his legs, either.

“I was basically just existing,” Boesen says. “I wasn’t really living my life.”

Boesen’s neurosurgeon at the local hospital, who fused his neck bones right after the accident, recognized that Boesen might be a candidate for a new treatment being offered through a clinical trial at Keck Medicine of USC. The surgeon contacted neurologist Charles Liu, director of the USC Neurorestoration Center. Liu’s procedure is part of a clinical trial sponsored by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine through Asterias Biotherapeutics, and involving five other clinical sites, with a goal of helping people with spinal cord injuries gain independence.

Read the full article at USC Trojan Family.

Posted: Dec. 1, 2016