Researchers report that they have injected stem cells into the brains of 18 patients with strokes, and two of them showed significant improvement, Newsmax Health reports.
All the patients saw some improvement in weakness or paralysis within six months of their procedures. Although three people developed complications related to the surgery, they all recovered.
What's more, the researchers said, two patients experienced dramatic recoveries almost immediately after the treatments.
Those patients, who were both women, started to regain the ability to talk and walk the morning after their operations. In both cases, they were more than two years past their strokes, a point where doctors wouldn't have expected further recovery.
Strokes occur when a blood clot or bleeding disrupts blood flow to the brain. Brain cells deprived of oxygen and nutrients quickly die.
Intensive physical therapy can help people regain abilities they've lost after a stroke, but there's currently no way to repair damaged brain tissue, experts say.
Three patients suffered adverse events that were related to the brain surgery. One developed bleeding between the brain and skull. Another patient suffered a seizure, while a third developed pneumonia. All recovered after treatment.
Researchers looked for signs that the cells had improved stroke symptoms. Most patients made gradual progress. By six months, all the patients demonstrated improvement in their weakness or paralysis on three different tests of post-stroke function, the researchers said.
But two patients in particular piqued researchers' interest.
"We had two patients who had remarkable recoveries," said study author Dr. Gary Steinberg, chairman of neurosurgery at Stanford University.
Both were women. One was 71, while the other was 33.
Steinberg cautioned that these "miracle-type" recoveries are not typical. And because there was no control group in the study, it's impossible to say whether it was the stem cells or something else about the procedure that helped the women.