How Stem Cell Therapy Helps Retired Coach Mark Richt Manage His Parkinson’s Symptoms
- Retired football coach Mark Richt, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021, has been able to remain a step ahead of his symptoms by utilizing his own stem cells he has banked with Celltex.
- Richt says the stem cells, which were derived from his fat tissue and cultured in Celltex’s Houston-based, FDA & cGMP-compliant laboratory, have helped reduce inflammation from Parkinson’s when utilized in therapeutic applications.
- Like Mark Richt, Celltex clients can have their own stem cells extracted and cryopreserved, ensuring access to a powerful, advanced biologic for years to come.
Retired college football coach Mark Richt knew something was wrong when he began noticing issues with balance, foot movement, and muscle tightness.
The former quarterback-turned-coach, who now can be seen on ESPN’s ACC Network, consulted with a neurologist and specialist before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in May 2021. Two months later, he went public with his diagnosis, announcing it in a tweet posted on July 1st.
Now, two years later, Richt says he’s managed to keep his Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms at bay through a regimen of insulin infusions, stem cell therapies, and, recently, Levodopa. He also makes sure he exercises, gets enough sleep, and eats well.
Richt receives an advanced type of stem cell therapy that utilizes hundreds of millions of his own stem cells that have been cryopreserved, or banked, with Celltex.
He says the therapies have helped reduce inflammation which, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, contributes to neurodegeneration in the brain.
Last year, Celltex spoke with Coach Mark Richt about his recent diagnosis, and his decision to use his Celltex-banked stem cells to help maintain his quality of life.
This year, we kicked off Parkinson’s Awareness Month by catching up with Coach Richt on how his Celltex-banked stem cells have continued to help him through the early stages of PD.
Richt’s Diagnosis: Focus on Dopamine Levels
In early 2021, Richt was recovering from a hip replacement surgery when he noticed he was struggling to keep his balance, his feet were “freezing”, his muscles were rigid, and none of it was getting better through rehabilitation.
A neurologist referred him to a movement specialist in Augusta, GA. Two months later, the specialist confirmed what Richt had already begun to suspect.
By the time he was officially diagnosed with PD, Richt had already been researching his symptoms online.
“Something as simple as getting out of a chair — you thought you had enough energy to get out of the chair and then you’d fall back — little things like that got me thinking something was wrong,” Richt says.
Parkinson’s begins with the gradual loss of dopamine-producing cells from a region of the brain called the substantia nigra, resulting in a loss of motor function and other symptoms.
Since his diagnosis, Mark has focused on preserving the remaining dopamine in his body by detoxing, eliminating inflammation, and reducing stress.
After going public with his diagnosis, a former colleague of Richt’s reached out to tell him about a group of retired football players who were using stem cell therapies to manage a myriad of different health issues.
This colleague was none other than Celltex’s own Jackie Sherrill, a fellow retired collegiate coach who now works with Celltex to help make regenerative medicine more accessible for athletes at all levels.
With Sherrill’s input, Richt decided to reach out to Celltex about using his body’s own stem cells to help with his Parkinson’s symptoms.
Since last year, Richt’s treatment strategy has evolved to include a combination of stem cell infusions, insulin injections, and, recently, Levodopa.
“I think I’m holding it at bay. I think we’re protecting the dopamine that’s left in my body,” Richt says.
Stem Cell Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease
Richt’s stem cell therapies use his own Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), which have been obtained through a simple extraction from his adipose, or fat, tissue. Celltex takes the tissue sample, isolates the MSCs, then cultures the cells to hundreds of millions in quantity in its own Houston-based, FDA & cGMP compliant lab.
MSCs are a unique, naturally occurring type of stem cell known to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that could potentially help alleviate PD symptoms.
In addition, MSCs help restore blood flow throughout the body, allowing neurons to get the oxygen needed to function properly.
All of these properties can help with symptoms commonly associated with PD, like tremors, low energy, and shuffling.
How Richt Stays in Control
Richt says stem cell therapies are, for him, probably the best way to reduce inflammation.
On top of that, he also is focused on maintaining his dopamine levels, eliminating toxins from his body, and reducing stress through exercise and sleep.
- Staying active. Richt is a former athlete who is used to pushing his body. During our recent webinar, he spoke briefly about his positive experience with Rock Steady Boxing, a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum geared toward people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Detoxing his body. According to Richt, the only way to get rid of toxins in your brain is through deep REM sleep, so it’s no coincidence that his best days are the ones where he’s gotten plenty of sleep.
- Reducing stress. Stress is a part of life, but when he can Richt tries to avoid it by keeping a positive attitude and enjoying time with his family. He says he has felt less stressed since retiring from coaching.
- Getting support. Richt has also built up a circle of doctors, family, friends, and coworkers who watch him and let him know if he does anything out of the ordinary that could indicate his symptoms are progressing.
Richt’s Advice to Those with Parkinson’s: Try to Stay Positive
At the end of our recent discussion with him, we asked Richt if he had any words of advice for others with PD. His answer: Try to stay positive.
“You can get mad about it and frustrated, and sometimes I do, but sometimes you just got to understand that that’s the way it is and be thankful that you can still do it, it just takes longer.”
Richt admits that he isn’t always able to stay positive, but he tries his best to let go of the negative and instead be thankful for the friends and family that are always ready to offer him support.
You can watch the recent webinar on-demand here, or view the 2022 webinar with Richt here.
Want to learn more about how stem cell therapy can help with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease? Fill out our online form to hear from a member of the Celltex team.
Celltex Therapeutics Corporation is an international leader in cryopreservation, or banking, and culturing of autologous, adipose-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) for therapeutic use and has remained committed to improving and maintaining clients’ quality of life. Celltex has the unique ability to do what no one else can: isolate, expand and cryopreserve your own MSCs to create your master cell bank, all from one small sample of your adipose tissue. This bank of MSCs can then be used to produce hundreds of millions of clinical-grade, genetically stable MSCs that are available for therapeutic use. To learn more about Celltex, visit www.celltexbank.com
Post Tags: adult stem cell therapy, chronic illness, Parkinson's disease
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