Nineteen-year-old Christie Roberts, affected with the rare cerebellar ataxia, underwent initial stem cell therapy session at Nerul hospital, Mumbai, India.
Cerebellar ataxia is a rare neurological disorder that affects the cerebellum and muscle movements in the body. Christie was diagnosed at the age of 2 and at the age of 6 it bound her to a wheel chair. "One year ago, she could not even feed herself," remembers her father, Kevin Roberts.
Christine's father, Kevin contacted the NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute in Navi Mumbai after having researched about possible treatment options in Asia. Owing to a long ban on stem cell research funding, stem cell therapy remains a relatively new science in the United States but was a ray of hope. She underwent her first stem cell session at the institute. Consequently, her second and third sessions also took place in a couple of years.
"Stem cells from her hip bone were injected in her spine. The cells released chemicals and improved her blood supply," said Dr Alok Sharma, neurosurgeon and founder of the institute.
"During rehabilitation, we often suggest physiotherapy in water. Water provides uniform pressure on all body points and gives a better balance, one she did not get on land," said rehabilitation expert Amruta Paranjape.
Swimming was easier than walking and she began to get trained. A month after the first trip to Navi Mumbai, Christie won the bronze at the Mississippi Special Olympics, her body movements responding well underwater.