Stem Cell Treatments for Cerebral Palsy – Mary Washington’s Story

Sarah Washington and her daughter Mary. Mary is 2 years old and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 4 months old. She was first treated at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama using human umbilical cord-derived stem cells. Mary received these stem cells intravenously over the course of 4 days. Her first treatment was in September of 2012. This interview was recorded in March 2013 at the clinic while she was there for a second round of treatments.

What kind of improvements have you noticed?

Overall, in general, what we noticed was, her upper body, she’s very stiff. She’s spastic in her legs and her arms and she has low tone in her trunk. In her upper body, we noticed a pretty significant improvement. Her range of motion, she couldn’t lift her arms over her before and now she can do that on both sides easily. And her hands, she was in tight little fists most of the time, whereas now if she is in a fist it’s very loose. But most of the time she kind of has her hands relaxed. That was a big improvement for us; small but significant for our family.

Her vision has improved, not necessarily distance but as far as like what I think as seeing details. So she would be able to tell the difference between you and me if we didn’t say anything. Whereas before, I don’t think she could do that. She would rely on smell and hearing more than her vision. Now she uses her vision a lot more. So that’s been an improvement that we’ve seen.
She is more involved in the world around her. [She] wants to be more involved in the world around her so that’s good. She has definitely, she doesn’t say, “mama, dada, ba, ba” yet but she definitely is making more vocalizations, making more sounds and trying to experiment with her voice, which is a positive thing.

She is trying different ways of communicating versus just screaming which is what she did before because that is all she knew how to do. And now, she is kind of fussing or sometimes she’ll just kind of like, yell and stop and wait for me to answer her instead of just going from “zero” to “scream”. So her communication has improved as well.

One thing that we were not expecting that we were pleased about is an improvement in her seizures. That wasn’t even something that we had even, I don’t know. I guess it just didn’t occur to us that maybe this would be helpful with that but before we came the first time in September she had been sick and we actually had to delay our trip twice because she had bronchialitis. She was just having a really hard time. And she was having a lot of seizures. We had to add a new seizure medicine to try to get them under control and she was having 6 or 7 short myotonic jerks every day. The first time we were here, by about Thursday, which was like day three of treatment, of stem cells we noticed that she hadn’t had a seizure that day. Whereas before, she was having 6 or 7 a day. And so, that was one thing. It was surprising but it was a nice surprise that those have improved since we’ve been here. She will still have breakthrough seizures every now and then when she’s sick, teething but she, we haven’t gone back to that, where she was having them on a regular basis. So that’s good. That’s been a good improvement.

Since we’ve been here this time, I haven’t really seen anything where I could say, “Oh, I think that’s the stem cells.” yet but I do know that last time it did take a couple of weeks for us to notice, you know, or to really pinpoint and say, “Yes, we think that is the stem cells. There’s no way she could have done that before.” So, and all of our therapists agree that her range of motion and her upper body for sure, and her vision would not have been the way they were without coming here.