The vast majority of treatments for chronic and life-threatening diseases concentrate on treating the symptoms, not finding a cure.
For this reason, regenerative medicine – including stem cell therapy aided by the use of modalities like hyperbaric oxygen therapy - represents one of the fastest growing biomedical industries in the world today for the treatment of heart disease, stroke and neurodegenerative disorders by helping repair, and even regenerate, body parts and tissues damaged by disease, trauma or age.
In terms of stem cell therapy, researchers are finding that the key lies in their ability to give the body a “reboot,” if you will – by injecting a “cocktail” that starts with stem cells (harvested from a patient’s own bone marrow) and various proteins, growth factors or cells – to help the body regrow tissues of the type or in the amount that it normally could not do by itself because of disease, injury or aging.
Regenerative medicine can be explained as simply as ‘out with the bad, in with the good.’
Dr. David A. Steenblock, D.O., is the founder and director of the San Clemente-based Personalized Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Steenblock earned his B.S. degree from Iowa State University, then an M.S. in Biochemistry and Doctor of Osteopathy degree from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa. His post-doctoral training included three years at Case Western Reserve University, one year at the Oregon Health Sciences University and a clinical Rotating Internship at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington.
As a wholistic physician beginning in 1979, Dr. Steenblock initially became interested in the practice area of stroke many years ago when patients came to him asking what he could to do help those who had suffered a stroke.
“I realized at that time I really had very little to offer,” says Dr. Steenblock, who would over the course of his career become known as ‘The Stroke Doctor.’ “As time progressed, I became acquainted with a treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is oxygen under pressure. I started to utilize that in the treatment of stroke beginning in about 1990 and found that it was very successful.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) proved to be so successful that Dr. Steenblock developed a clinic around that particular therapy and for subsequent 10 years, he dedicated his practice to treating patients with stroke utilizing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, physical therapy, biofeedback and a variety of therapies all designed to help rehabilitate the patient with stroke.
“Today, the same phenomena of making new blood vessels can be achieved through the use of stem cells,” he says. “Once you give the stem cells, they go to directly to the damaged areas where they become lodged in the small blood vessels that are partially occluded because of the stroke. They start to reside there and proliferate there and secrete growth factors that cause the new blood vessels to grow into the area.”
In his practice, Dr. Steenblock now uses both therapies together because “hyperbaric oxygen allows for an increased invasiveness of the stem cells into the tissue and helps activate the stem cells and also helps mobilize the stem cells from the bone marrow into the circulation and into damaged tissues.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) proved to be so successful that Dr. Steenblock developed a clinic around that particular therapy
When stroke patient Bob Ziachkowsky came to Dr. Steenblock, he was in “such bad shape” that he couldn’t walk and “could hardly move.” His wife Melanie adds that prior to his second treatment at Dr. Steenblock’s office, Bob couldn’t find a “single word in a word search puzzle book.”
Having completed a painless, safe bone marrow stem cell therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Bob credits “The Stroke Doctor” with the tremendous improvement in his motor function and cognitive ability – a fact that Melanie says is evidenced by the fact that Bob can now complete an entire word search book in one sitting.
At Personalized Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Steenblock specializes in “regeneration of the body from the inside out,” using bone marrow stem cell therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, IV therapy and chelation, External Counter Pulsation (ECP), pulsed shock wave therapy lasers, pulsed electromagnetic therapy and many more “safe, non-toxic” therapies that gently stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms to treat conditions ranging from stroke, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia to ALS, arthritis and anti-aging.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, with two-thirds surviving and requiring some type of rehabilitation. Heart attacks affect over one million people in the U.S. each year. The widely accepted standard rehabilitation treatment is not meant to “cure” the effects of stroke or heart attack because it cannot reverse any damage. Rather, its goal is to help a survivor become as independent as possible—unfortunately often with only partial success.
Although Dr. Steenblock’s practice encompasses therapies for an array of degenerative disorders and diseases, for the purposes of this article, we asked that he address frequently asked questions about regenerative medicine as it specifically pertains to the treatment of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Question: What is regenerative medicine?
Dr. Steenblock: By my definition, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, states that entropy (a measure of molecular disorder) is responsible for disease and aging. Regenerative medicine assists the body’s own ability to heal and involves innovative medical therapies that enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or malfunctioning cells and tissues to help people return to better health.
Instead of managing symptoms with prescription drugs, devices and invasive medical procedures, all physicians will someday use regenerative cell therapies to replace damaged tissue and restore function of a failing organ caused by disease, injury, congenital defects, aging or other circumstances.
Question: What is stem cell therapy and how does it work?
Dr. Steenblock: Healing begins naturally in the body when healthy stem cells – which are responsible for growing new tissues - are made. With regard to cardiovascular disease, for example, transplanting healthy stem cells into the heart, can help restore or regenerate unhealthy cells and repair damaged tissue so that the heart can start functioning better.
Question: What are the different types of stem cells and how are they obtained?
Dr. Steenblock: Stem cells generally come from umbilical cord blood, adult blood, fat or adult bone marrow. In the bone marrow, billions of new blood cells are made every day from blood-forming stem cells.
Bone marrow is taken, usually from the pelvis bone (iliac crest), using a needle and syringes. Patients often ask how painful the procedure is and while every individual has a different pain threshold, 50% of patients need only a local anesthetic and others may need a small amount of valium intravenously.
Question: What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
Dr. Steenblock: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy alleviates oxygen deficiencies, reduces brain swelling, repairs damaged cell membranes, stimulates the growth of neural stem cells (important for neural re-growth), neutralizes toxins, enhances immune defenses, renews ‘sleeping’ or ‘dormant’ neurons and stimulates the growth of new blood vessels into damaged tissues.
During an HBOT session, the patient lies in a special pressurized chamber and breathes in 100 percent pure oxygen. The hyperbaric oxygen saturates the patient’s blood and quickly increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood, particularly in injured areas that have a poor blood supply. The higher concentration of pure oxygen heals wounds and areas of tissue damage, reduces swelling and builds new blood vessels.
Question: How are stem cells and HBOT used to aid in recovery for patients who have suffered a stroke (or suffer from other neurological conditions like Traumatic Brain Injuries and Cerebral Palsy)?
Dr. Steenblock: Very simple. Bone marrow is taken from the hip bone and given back to the patient intravenously. HBOT is then done daily for a few days.
In patients with cerebral palsy or individuals suffering from a traumatic brain injury, some of the injured brain tissues may be ‘dormant’ and non-functioning. HBOT can stimulate these ‘sleeping’ tissues and return them to more normal function. In young children, cognitive function and spasticity can be improved.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used in conjunction with other therapies such as bone marrow which contains stem cells, ensures the best recovery possible for children with cerebral palsy and patients with traumatic brain injury.
It is estimated that approximately two-thirds of Americans will receive more than 50% of their retirement income from Social Security.
But seniors who are concerned about the future of Social Security (or whether they will outlive their retirement savings), may want to look to their home equity as another possible source of income.
A reverse mortgage is a retirement asset that can be effectively utilized as part of a retirement income plan to support your retirement goals and needs - and help retirement-age homeowners “age in place.”
In the following interview, we asked Al W. Hensling, president of United American Mortgage Corporation, to address some of the more frequently asked questions and clear up common misconceptions regarding reverse mortgages:
A: A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. The equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you. However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage. You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.
A: No, you continue to own your home just the same as with a regular mortgage.
A reverse mortgage does not affect regular Social Security or Medicare benefits. However, if you are on Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), any reverse mortgage proceeds that you receive must be used immediately.
A: With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must make monthly payments on the principal and interest. A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you – there are no monthly principal and interest payments. With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.
A: To be eligible for a FHA HECM, the FHA requires that you be a homeowner 62 years of age or older, own your home outright, or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing with proceeds from the reverse loan, have the financial resources to pay ongoing property charges including taxes and insurance, and you must live in the home. You are also required to receive consumer information free or at very low cost from a HECM counselor prior to obtaining the loan. You can find a HECM counselor online or by phoning (800) 569-4287.
A: A reverse mortgage does not affect regular Social Security or Medicare benefits. However, if you are on Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), any reverse mortgage proceeds that you receive must be used immediately. Funds that you retain count as an asset and could impact eligibility. For example, if you receive $4,000 in a lump sum for home repairs and spend it all the same calendar month, everything is fine. Any residual funds remaining in your bank account the following month would count as an asset. If the total liquid resources (including other bank funds and savings bonds) exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, you would be ineligible for Medicaid. To be safe, you should contact the local area agency.
A: The amount of funds you are eligible to receive depends on your age (or the age of the youngest spouse when there is a couple), appraised home value, interest rates, and in the case of the government program, the FHA lending limit, which is currently $625,500. If your home is worth more, then the amount of funds you may be eligible for will be based on the $625,500 loan limit. In general, the older you are and the more valuable your home (and the less you owe on your home), the more money you can get.
During the first 12 months after closing, a borrower cannot access more than 60 percent of the available loan proceeds. In month thirteen, a borrower can access as much or as little of the remaining funds as he or she wishes.
There are exceptions to the 60 percent rule. If you have an existing mortgage, you may pay it off and take an additional 10 percent of the available funds, even if the total amount used exceeds 60 percent.