Pamela Kerr and Jenny Sharpe, nurse practitioner, stand together at Heller Healthcare in Brunswick. Kerr has seen great relief from her arthritis since having stem cell therapy.

As we all know, life is life, and busier than it should be. Pam Kerr’s life has been exactly that and about getting things done. A former teacher, she took control of her family’s business, Duraclean, after her husband passed away in 2008. “It’s based in Chicago. We clean carpet and upholstery,” she explained. “Instead of going back to teaching after he died, I started managing the business.”

But becoming the head of a busy company came with some unexpected challenges. Time was little and stress was high, and as the owner and wanting to get things done right, Kerr would physically help with the cleaning. Kerr soon found that having a physical laborious job, along with all of life’s “to do’s” was taking a toll on her body.

“There’s a lot of repetitive movement, pushing and pulling. It was more stressful to one side of the body over the other,” she said.

Feeling like she was no longer in control of her body was unacceptable to her. Even though she has been a longtime yoga practitioner and very active, she knew it just wasn’t enough to combat the arthritis.

“I couldn’t stand on one foot in the balance poses,” she said. “It was tough walking on the sand and going upstairs was becoming difficult.” Her foot pain and arthritis was so bad that she had been recommended to get her ankle fused.

That, coupled with Kerr’s severe osteoarthritis, made daily activities a challenge. Gripping and opening her hands all the way, difficulty sleeping with the hip pain at night, and even her knees and shoulders suffered quite a bit, but she continued on. She eventually had a knee replacement, but even after the replacement she still had daily pain and stiffness. All of this pain, stiffness, and arthritis was now affecting the things she loves to do, so she started looking for other ways to find relief.

Not long ago, Kerr’s friend started a discussion with her about stem cell therapy. The two were intrigued and wanted to learn more, so they attended a seminar offered by Heller Healthcare in Brunswick. There, they learned about the innovative treatment offered right here in the Golden Isles, and how it can help a variety of ailments.

They also learned about the practice as a whole. Heller Healthcare, located at 208 Scranton Connector in Brunswick, is an integrative practice that specializes in Regenerative, Traditional, and Functional Medicine. They offer comprehensive plans that include chiropractic care, rehab, bio-identical hormone optimization, physician guided weight loss, massage and more. All of the modalities, under one roof, work together to give patients better quality of life and health. And, what really resonated with Kerr were their programs that focus on living life without chronic pain, especially stem cell therapy.

The Body’s Building Blocks — Stem cells are the basic foundation cells that grow all of the tissue and organs in our body. When injected into a damaged tissue, joint, or organ, they support the natural healing process by regenerating and making new tissue.

Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, uses stem cells to stimulate the body’s natural repair mechanisms. Many in the medical community including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine consider it the future of medicine.

At Heller Healthcare, the cells used are Human Umbilical Cord Tissue (HUCT) cells, which are derived from the consented, donated umbilical cords from healthy mothers who birthed healthy babies. The quantity and quality of umbilical stem cells is much greater than taking an aged persons own stem cells. A simple injection of millions of stem cells into a joint can take less than a minute. This also makes it a less-invasive treatment with fewer steps since your own stem cells are not harvested from one’s own body.

Stem cell therapy can be used anywhere in the body where there is arthritis, or a muscle or tendon tear. In additional to knees and shoulders, medical providers at Heller Healthcare have performed the procedure on ankles, wrists, hands, feet, low back, and the neck. Even patients with COPD and other lung diseases are getting relief by taking breathing treatments with stem cells. These treatments can help patients heal and regenerate lung tissue and improve their quality of life.

Kerr was impressed by what she heard and scheduled her consultation that day. And, despite all the damage to her body over the years, Kerr was still a good candidate for stem cell therapy. She was an eager candidate as well, having multiple joints treated. “I did my whole body. The nurse practitioner Jenny Sharpe marked each joint and gave me the injections,” she said.

The process was simple and a lengthy one, but something that Kerr felt good about from the moment she left the office. And, while she was told that results could take time to manifest, she actually saw improvements right away.

“Jenny said not to expect immediate results. It’s not like a cortisone shot where you feel better immediately,” she said. “It can take up to four months for the stem cells to work.” But, unlike cortisone shots that may offer temporary relief, stem cells therapy offers a long-term solution. What was the biggest surprise for Kerr was when she walked out of the procedure she could fully open and close her hands pain free, which is something she hasn’t been able to do for a long time.

Since Kerr’s treatment two months ago, the stem cells have started to replicate and produce new tissue. That can cause some literal “growing pains,” but Kerr welcomes that as a sign of progress.

“It creates space which can bring some discomfort. Some days I feel great and some days I’d feel that ache,” she said. “But overall, I feel like there’s a lot of progress. For one thing, I can now stand on my ankle during yoga! I’m doing great but still have a ways to go.”

Kerr is now able to enjoy her walks on the beach again and is excited about what the future holds. She encourages anyone who is living with pain to explore the options available, especially stem cell therapy.

“I think for anyone struggling with joint issues or really any kind of pain. It’s worth it, even if you started with one joint, it would be very helpful,” she said.

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