|10-10-2005, 11:06 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Article about stem cell surgery
Man seeing minor results after surgery
By JEFF GILL
Tom Reed The Times Matt Dobbs works on a computerized numerical control mill while he was a Lanier Technical College student in March. Dobbs has undergone experimental stem cell surgery, but hasn't gotten any feeling back. However, he has improved in other areas because of daily physical therapy.
For more information about the stem cell procedure that Matthew Dobbs went through, call the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan's Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery at (866) 724-2368, or go online at www.centerforscirecovery.org.
A former Lanier Technical College student who had experimental stem cell surgery in the spring hasn't gotten nerve sensation back yet, but is making some progress in other ways.
Matthew Dobbs, who lives in Forsyth County, underwent a four-hour experimental stem cell procedure in March to try regain sensation he lost in a car accident 16 years ago that rendered him quadriplegic.
Doctors have "detected some minute movement in my hip flexors," Dobbs said earlier this week. "They put me on this tricycle and had me try and pedal it. When I do this, my inner thighs start to quiver. ... My therapist says it's my secondary muscles kicking in."
Also, "my trunk muscles and left hand also seem to be working better, but it's hard to say if that's from the surgery or (they have) just gotten stronger from therapy," Dobbs added.
"They told me going in (that) the return would be slow, but it sure is hard waiting. It's been harder waiting since the surgery than the 16 years before."'
Dobbs went to Lisbon, Portugal, for the surgery, which involved removing stem cells from an area between his nose and brain and removing scar tissue from around the neck injury that rendered him a quadriplegic.
Doctors then placed the mass of stem cells in his neck. The hope is that nerves and blood cells will grow back and that Dobbs will regain sensation.
The $40,000 procedure hasn't gotten U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and isn't covered by insurance. That has meant that Dobbs' family, with some help from his church, has picked up the tab.
Carlos Lima, a neuropathologist in Portugal, has performed the surgery for two years, with positive results in 35 out of 37 patients, Dobbs has said.
Initially, doctors didn't want to try the surgery on anyone who had been injured for three years or longer. But they have worked their way up to a patient with a nine-year-old injury and gotten results.
At the time Dobbs went through the surgery, no patient had been injured as long as he had.
Dobbs finished schooling in September at Lanier Tech, where he was a machine tool technology student, and is set to graduate in July. He undergoes physical therapy five days a week, a routine that has hurt his chances at getting a job.
"Right now, I have to put therapy first," he said. "Well, the Lord first, then therapy."
He is working at the school two days a week as a lab assistant and is looking forward to when he can land a full-time job.
"I still think I could be a good employee and do a good job for some company if they would just give me a chance," Dobbs said.
Tim McDonald, Dobbs' instructor at Lanier Tech, said Dobbs' lab assistant job calls for him to work with students "while job planning or setting up the machines to produce their projects."
"I have talked with a few local shops, but nothing has materialized (in the way of full-time work)," he said.
McDonald also is working with Malissa Lawrence, the school's job placement specialist, on some possibilities.
Dobbs has heard from people wanting more information about the surgery.
"I tell them about what little return I've gotten back, that I'm still in the early stages and am just waiting and praying," Dobbs said. "... I've had people I don't even know tell me they're praying for me."
Originally published Monday, October 10, 2005
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