The practice of medicine appears to be in trouble. Frustrations abound on all sides of the examination table. Patients are frustrated because they feel like their doctors aren’t helping them feel better. They’re frustrated by insurance companies that cost them more and cover less. Patients complain about higher costs for services, less prescription coverage and too many uncovered procedure fees.
Physicians are also frustrated with insurance companies. Daily battles over denials, delays and recoupment of payments, in some cases, and increasingly complicated, time-consuming coding systems are just a few sources of stress. Other sources of physician frustration include hospital systems, electronic medical records and the many other systems that have promised improvements in the delivery of health care but not lived up to those promises. Everyone is frustrated by the increasing costs of health care upon society.
New technologies, more innovations and FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are accompanied by higher costs, more side effects and more physician burnout, yet they’re not necessarily providing better outcomes. As an aging physician in an aging society, I want better therapies for myself as well as for my patients. The field of regenerative medicine may be the beacon of light in a vocation whose once shiny reputation has tarnished.
While regenerative medicine is a relatively new branch of medicine, the term was first coined in 1992. Regenerative medicine is an approach to therapy that employs various modalities that work to replace damaged or diseased cells and tissues and restore normal function. It is what medicine has always aimed for.
In its most advanced forms, regenerative medicine is the creation of new organs from stem cells that can be used in transplantation medicine. But it’s far more than just stem cells that offer hope for healing and healthful aging.
Meditation is perhaps the simplest, and certainly the oldest, take on regenerative medicine. Neuroimaging studies have repeatedly documented the positive effects of meditation upon brain structure and function. Regular meditation promotes better cognitive and emotional health.
Exercise and eating habits can have regenerative properties on many organ systems including the brain, bones and liver, to name a few.
Hormone replacement therapy can be considered a regenerative therapy. Consider osteoporosis, where hormonal therapies can increase bone density scores by as much as 7–10 percent in one year’s time. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that play a role in the health of many bodily systems.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an amazing regenerative modality for many conditions, including wound healing, postsurgical anemia, postconcussion syndrome and many others. Platelet-rich plasma, growth-factor therapy, and amniotic membrane and fluid products are other examples of regenerative therapies that have a broad array of applications.
With the average life span now nearly 79 years, we can expect to live longer than previous generations. We must shift our focus to therapies that will allow those extra years to be spent in vitality and not as a burden upon our families and society. Regenerative medicine may be just what the doctor ordered to help fix a broken healthcare system and offer true healing to our patients and ourselves.
For more information, contact Wendy Askew, MD, at Dr. Rogers Centers, 2838 N. Loop 1604 E., Suite 104, San Antonio, TX 78232, 210-495-2117, or 24200 IH-10 West, Suite 107, San Antonio, TX, 78257, 210-625-5963.