The findings, which were presented at the 2016 International Stroke Conference, could help improve how occupational therapists support people after this kind of trauma.
With the aim of looking at how effective and safe the treatment was, researchers gathered 126 patients who had experienced a stroke; 65 were given the stem cell therapy and 61 received a placebo.
They found that those who were given adult stem cell therapy showed much better results than the control group.
Of the 65 patients who received the stem cell therapy, more than one in five (23.1 per cent) achieved a complete or near full recovery from their stroke after one year. This was significantly higher than the group who received the placebo, with just 8.2 per cent making the same level of recovery.
As with most stroke care, the study found that giving patients the treatment as soon as possible could increase the positive effects. Patients who received the cell therapy within 36 hours performed much better, with 29 per cent of those 31 patients achieving an excellent outcome.
Dr Cathy Sila, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University, was a principal investigator on the study.
Calling the results promising, she said stem cell therapy would be an important additional to acute stroke care, helping to reduce the amount of brain injury.
Dr Sila said: “New treatments are needed to reverse the effects of a stroke and promote recovery from stroke, and they need to be effective in a wider time window to help more patients.”
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