Can stem cells help athletes?

Louis A. Cona M.D.

A brief description of how stem cell therapy may be able to help athletes.

Stem cells have the unique ability to become any type of cell that is required by the body in a process called differentiation. Additionally, they have the natural ability to find areas of inflamed or damaged tissues and replace the cells with new ones. This is done non-invasively, without the need for surgeries or lengthy recovery times. 

Although treatment can be used to heal a severe injury, stem cell therapy can also be used to continuously repair the body before serious injury occurs, prolonging the productive period for athletes and those with active lifestyles alike. These characteristics of stem cell therapies have caused many to consider them the new future of sports medicine.

Those with active lifestyles know that physical activity causes stress on the body. The body responds by repairing itself and gaining strength over time. However, as we age, the body's ability to repair itself diminishes, and activity can sometimes lead to injuries that cannot be overcome naturally. Until recent years, athletes could only prevent injury through efficient training. They would strengthen the body to be able to handle the stresses applied to it during games, races, or competitions. When the body did become injured, they would turn to surgery to repair the damage and deal with lengthy recovery and rehabilitation times. Sometimes, the injuries would be too much to return to their activity ever again, ending careers in the process. 

Can Athletes use Stem Cells? 

With the advent of stem cell technology, more and more professional athletes have been turning to regenerative medicine as an alternative to heal their injuries. Notable examples being Peyton Manning's neck treatment before his last championship season, Bartolo Colon receiving treatment to continue pitching, and even Rafael Nadal using stem cells to treat his injured back. Athletes have been traveling around the world to receive treatment for years, but until recently, they had only done so after receiving a debilitating injury and as a last resort.

The use of stem cells to prevent sports injury

Today, many athletes and even sports organizations themselves are exploring uses for stem cells to prevent injury and prolong an athlete's career. They have begun harvesting and banking stem cells from players for use throughout the season. By creating a usable supply of a patient's stem cells, they can be grown and multiplied for use when needed. As the stress of the season wears down a player's body leading to potential injury, stem cells can be applied to find and repair any damage found. 

By ensuring damaged tissue remains at a minimum, the likelihood of catastrophic injury goes down considerably. Additionally, no rules or regulations are barring the use of one's stem cells, as they are not performance-enhancing in any way. They are simply a means to prevent or treat injury and prolong an athlete's career.

What is the benefit of using stem cells to treat an Injury?

If an injury, unfortunately, does occur, a player with banked cells can be quickly treated. Stem cells can regrow and repair damaged cartilage and tissue. This could potentially replace the need for knee replacements and other surgeries. Players could also return to action much faster than if using traditional healing methods. It could mean the difference in missing a season or valuable playing time. All of these factors lead to the conclusion that stem cell therapy could be a wise investment for athletes, or any person looking to stay healthy and active longer.


Tyler explains his experience at DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands.

Tyler is optimistic that he will see positive results post treatment.

"The cool thing about the Cayman Islands besides being beautiful, it was an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation allowing my body to heal and restore. I'm back in the US now and feel like I am ready to conquer the world."

- Tyler Heid


2 weeks post treatment, MS patient Tyler is beginning to see amazing progress. He has been wheelchair bound for the last year and has not been able to move his legs unassisted before now.


Tyler updates about his progress, explaining the amazing response he has been receiving from his friends and family.

"People coming up to me saying I am moving, talking and smiling so much better. They are noticing a lot of things that have improved over the course of 3 months."

"This morning I was able to do things that I was unable to do before, I was able to stand up and lift my leg higher than I ever have before."


5 months post treatment Tyler sends us an update on his progress.

"I'm able to smile better, I have more control over the left side of my face."

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler is optimistic and on the right track to recovery. We are ecstatic to see his progress and look forward to more updates from him.

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler Heid - 5 months post treatment

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

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