Regenerative Rehabilitation: Combining Stem Cell Therapies and Activity-Dependent Stimulation
The number of clinical trials in regenerative medicine is burgeoning, and stem cell/tissue engineering technologies hold the possibility of becoming the standard of care for a multitude of diseases and injuries. Advances in regenerative biology reveal novel molecular and cellular targets, with potential to optimize tissue healing and functional recovery, thereby refining rehabilitation clinical practice. The purpose of this review is to (1) highlight the potential for synergy between the fields of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation, a convergence of disciplines known as regenerative rehabilitation; (2) provide translational examples of regenerative rehabilitation within the context of neuromuscular injuries and diseases; and (3) offer recommendations for ways to leverage activity dependence via combined therapy and technology, with the goal of enhancing long-term recovery. The potential clinical benefits of regenerative rehabilitation will likely become a critical aspect in the standard of care for many neurological and musculoskeletal disorders.