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Stem cell treatments drawing patients to Jackson

Posted on March 2, 2016

A Jackson, Tennessee-based doctor is offering multiple sclerosis and stroke patients a less expensive version of a cutting-edge medical treatment previously only available overseas.

Roy Schmidt, whose clinic New Life Medical Group specializes in regenerative medicine, is attracting patients from as far away as New Mexico for stem cell and hyberbaric oxygen therapy. However, the treatments aren’t covered by most insurance plans, so patients are having to pay out of pocket.

Schmidt says as recently as 2010, patients seeking stem cell therapy had to go overseas and spend as much as $60,000 for the treatment, not counting travel expenses. Patients in larger markets such as Los Angeles are still paying around $20,000, but Schmidt charges about $5,000 for stem cell therapy.

Schmidt said the biggest benefit of regenerative medicine is the fact that patients can be treated for issues instead of simply being given drugs to manage their pain. He has used stem cell therapy to treat patients suffering from multiple sclerosis or who are recovering from strokes.

“It’s amazing when you see people in pain getting better,” Schmidt said. “You do not have to go far away for this treatment. It’s not that my protocols are better than somewhere else. It’s just that I’m doing it here and investing time and money in West Tennessee.”

Schmidt spends most of his time educating people on the way the treatment works. The stem cells come from a patient’s bone marrow or from fat cells and are then treated to make sure the process won’t endanger the patient when injected.

“We can take this and put it anywhere, knees, big joints,” Schmidt said. “It’s an exciting field. It’s technically been done in other places, and I’m not creating anything new. But we’re combining it differently.”

In addition to the stem cell treatments, hyperbaric oxygen therapy also helps patients regenerate tissue without the use of drugs, which is part of the reason why it’s continuing to grow in popularity among athletes.

But, no matter the benefits, the best way to reach the maximum number of patients is if the treatments are covered by insurance.

“Some patients do fundraisers or get loans. And some insurance companies have agreed to pay for stem cells, but you can’t do it for free,” Schmidt said. “I tell my patients to call their insurance and bug them.”

In Memphis, Schrader Orthopedics and Stem Cell Treatment Center is also using stem cell treatments in its work with patients.

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