Facing a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is life-changing. While some symptoms of Parkinson’s can be hard to detect, others are hard to ignore. The unrelenting pace of this progressive disease can quickly rob you of a normal life, manifesting in the form of cognitive impairments, loss of motor control and an interrupted sleep cycle.

PD manifests when the dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain are damaged in a specific area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Smaller amounts of dopamine are produced, affecting the transmission of signals in the brain for normal motor control. Without sufficient dopamine, you are unable to execute routine, coordinated movements or control your own motions—hence the resultant tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity of muscles and general instability which progressively worsen over time.

Stem Cell Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

For Parkinson’s patients, there is a great deal of excitement about stem cells. Adult stem cell therapy can minimize the inflammation around the substantia nigra that is ultimately killing those cells and can aid in activating neural progenitor cells to try and replace some of those cells.

Your fat is the most potent and concentrated source of stem cells in your body. These cells have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and travel directly into the nervous system to improve blood flow to the brain and potentially repair some of the nerve damage which has resulted in PD symptoms. Adult stem cell therapy can slow the degenerative progression of your symptoms while repairing or replacing damaged neurons and brain tissue. This may lead to a number of differences in quality of life, including:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved gait
  • Better coordination and motor control
  • Reduction of tremors

Although stem cell therapy is not yet a cure for PD, there is promising evidence to support the ability of this therapy to improve quality of life and slow the progression of debilitating symptoms.

Watch our video, 5 Things to Know about stem cell therapy and Parkinson’s Disease:

The Procedure

Stem cell treatment at Okyanos is a minimally invasive, same-day outpatient procedure. Though recovery can and does vary from patient to patient, our protocols are designed and carried out with the goal of keeping “downtime” to a minimum. A general overview of the procedure is as follows:

  1. First, water-assisted fat harvesting is done to obtain a sufficient amount of adipose (fat) tissue.
  2. The unique blend of stem and regenerative cells which exist in the adipose tissue are then isolated and prepared for delivery using a proprietary closed/sterile, fully automated CGMP cell processing system. In about 65 minutes, the highly potent SVF is ready for direct injections and IV infusions.
  3. Before stem and regenerative cell infusion begins, mannitol, which is a sugar, is administered to facilitate the cells crossing the blood brain barrier for a potentially more effective cell delivery.
  4. In accordance with the individualized treatment plan prepared for each patient, adult stem and regenerative cells are then delivered intravenously.

The Best Care & Safety

Treatment timeframes are usually three days and may vary slightly depending on the personalized plan:

  1. Day 1: Pre-operative session includes an office visit with the medical staff for a final detailed review of the patient’s treatment plan and answer any questions from the patient and family members.
  2. Day 2: The patient undergoes treatment and briefly rests in our comfortable facility before being escorted back to their hotel for the evening.
  3. Day 3: Post-operative session involves a brief physical at Okyanos and a discharge plan discussion. The physician reviews the post treatment recommendations, the follow up communication plan and clears the patient to go home.

For a more detailed understanding of what you can expect, watch our video series with Gretchen Dezelick, RN and Director of Clinical Operations:

For a detailed understanding of stem cell safety at Okyanos, watch our video below.


US National Library of Medicine

National Institute on Aging

Harvard Health