Understanding how stem cells work and how to precisely place them into joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones is hard work. In fact, if you wanted to learn the entire course curriculum on the subject given by the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation, it would take about 190 hours of your time, excluding travel. This is why when I see a Stem Cell Institute of America conference pop up that claims to be able to do it in less than 3 hours, warning and danger bells go off in my head. Let me explain.
Stem Cell Institute of America (SCIA) is not an institute. When you think of that word, you think of dedicated teams of medical scientists toiling away at their workbenches, trying to stretch their knowledge of medical science. In fact, the only physical address we could find was in Canton, Georgia, right next to the Hallmark shop on Main Street. When a colleague went in to check it all out, he could only find a few card tables and people answering the phone. There were no scientists or lab facilities or even a healthcare provider.
The company sprang from a chiropractic-practice consultant known as PBS (Physician’s Business Solutions). PBS makes money by teaching chiro offices how to market and bill for medical services, usually by adding a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. These services include hormone replacement, medical weight loss, physical therapy, and so on. Recently, the company figured out that these chiro practices could make big bucks by marketing that they were stem cell experts and having a physician assistant inject dead amniotic tissue into joints and tendons while claiming this was a live stem cell therapy.
We train fellows and are instructors for the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF). If you’re one of the lucky physicians chosen to be in our fellowship program focusing on interventional orthopedics and regenerative medicine, you’ll spend a year full of 60-hour weeks learning how to place stem cells in the right place using imaging guidance. Assuming 50 weeks times 60, that’s 3,000 hours of training. If you are, instead, already a practicing physician and want to pursue the entire IOF curriculum in injecting all body parts, then this will take you about 190 hours. However, your time commitment will be even more as you’ll need to make 11 trips to be trained on cadavers and will spend time studying for tests. So call it 500 hours of your time.
What is interventional orthopedics? Watch the video below:
As I said above, SCIA sprang from the chiropractic-management group called PBS. Turns out that PBS is putting on a conference for chiropractors. This quote from the website should give you some sense of what we’re dealing with:
“We’re bringing in the heavy hitters for this one. The top experts from the most profitable service lines that are poised for huge growth in the coming year.”
Hmmmm…”Most profitable service lines.” What are those?
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Metabolic & Functional Medicine
Stem Cell Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Staff Training for Practice Growth Best Practices for Marketing
Selling $5,000 Cash Treatments
Medical Weight Loss
So “stem cells” are merely one profitable service line among many. The conference will also teach you (I’m assuming that they mean a PA or NP midlevel provider and not a chiropractor) to perform stem cell injections. How much training will you get?
So I can learn how to perform these orthopedic stem cell procedures in something less than three hours as I’m also learning about cosmetic PRP. So who will be teaching me these procedures?
Expert in Stem Cells & Regenerative Therapy Service Delivery
Hmmmm…I’m going to learn how to perform these complex procedures from a nurse? Is there a physician involved?
Expertise in Functional Medicine and Joint Therapies, Medical Director of Stem Cell Institute of America
OK, who is this guy? To be a medical expert in a topic, you have to have performed medical research in that area. I performed a US National Library of Medicine search online to see if Kent Beams has any publications in regenerative orthopedic care. There is nothing listed. I did find this on a Florida medical-marijuana site:
“Dr. Beams experience includes acute primary care, walk-in and urgent care clinics, vein clinics, and his private anti-aging medical spa. His expertise includes treating men and women with bio-identical hormone pellets, functional medicine for all ages in treating many chronic diseases and deficiencies. He enjoys educating patients on customized dietary changes and exercise recommendations. Additionally, Dr. Beams serves as Medical Director for Stem Cell Institute of America and keeps involved with the most advanced research in regenerative medicine.”
Hmmm…Outside of saying that he is the medical director for SCIA, there seems to be no expertise or experience in image-guided procedures. In fact, his expertise seems to be in all of the other things that SCIA advertises to chiropractors as “service lines.” In fact, a closer look at his background reveals that his residency training was in pathology! What does pathology have to do with precision stem cell injections into the body using imaging guidance? Not much.
The upshot? I’ve come to expect nothing less or more from SCIA. While physicians who are serious about this area train for hundreds to thousands of hours to perfect their skills before sticking needles into patients, it looks like SCIA and PBS believe that less than three hours of training from a nurse and a pathologist whose recent experience is in medical spas, hormone replacement, and urgent-care clinics is sufficient. Why does this not surprise me?
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About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…