Doctors were guardedly optimistic when Chicago mother Mary Schneider told them she wanted to use her two-year-old son Ryan's newborn stem cells, banked at birth, to treat his cerebral palsy. "When your child is in trouble you use all available resources to improve the situation," said Mary.

Ryan's problems started early. After birth Ryan had feeding problems and then missed developmental milestones with his motor skills. At the age of two, his upper body strength was weak and appetite poor. While other toddlers' vocabulary was growing, Ryan could only speak two words. The Schneider's local pediatrician referred the family to a neurologist. She diagnosed two-year-old Ryan with a mild case of cerebral palsy. "After we got the diagnosis my husband and I felt like we'd been punched in the stomach," said Mary.

Ryan made marginal improvement with traditional physical and speech therapy. Remembering they had banked Ryan's cord blood with CBR, Mary and her husband became intent on finding a physician to infuse Ryan's own stem cells back into him to treat his cerebral palsy. After being told about the procedure, the national director for The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation in Washington, D.C was apprehensive, but wanted to be informed of Ryan's progress. He told the family that Ryan was the first child in the country to receive this kind of therapy for cerebral palsy. "I was never looking for a silver bullet, only the potential to help my son and maybe other children like him," explained Mary.

The Schneider's found what they were looking for. Ryan was infused with his own stem cells at Duke University in North Carolina in 2005. "In Ryan's case, the worst that can happen is nothing happens. His body won't reject his own cells," Mary remarked.

But something did happen. Very soon after the treatment, Ryan's condition significantly improved. His parents say he's gained weight and has improved arm and hand mobility. He comes up with new words faster than Mary can count them. It's progress the Schneider's believe he might never have made without the stem cell therapy. Mary continues to keep detailed records to eventually provide evidence of Ryan's new development. She advises other parents in a similar situation to do the same.

A clinical trial regarding celebral palsy treatment with autologous cord blood transplant is currently taking place at Duke University, while other research institutes are considering starting similar trials as well.

Source: Cord blood registry,