The Role of Regenerative Medicine Therapies in Pediatric/Adolescent Sports Injuries

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has just released a new call to action that outlines seven points for investigating the role of regenerative medicine therapies in pediatric and adolescent sports injuries. The collaborative study was developed from a meeting last August of sports medicine clinicians, researchers and a bioethicist to understand the current evidence risks and rewards and future directions of research and clinical practice for regenerative medicine therapies in youth sports. The meeting was supported by the National Youth Sports Health and Safety Institute (NYSHSI), a partnership between ACSM and Sanford Health, an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas.

“While regenerative medicine appears to have promise in many areas of medicine, little is known about the safety or effectiveness of these treatments for bone, cartilage, ligament or muscle tissue injuries in children and adolescents,” said Thomas Best, FACSM, professor of orthopedics, family medicine, biomedical engineering and kinesiology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. “Everyone wants a young athlete to get back to sports as quickly as possible, but it is important to look first at treatments that have been shown to be effective, before considering unproven options.”

Best was the lead author of a new collaborative study, “Not Missing the Future: A Call to Action for Investigating the Role of Regenerative Medicine Therapies in Pediatric/Adolescent Sports Injuries,” published May 15 in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Current Sports Medicine Reports.


“Unregulated clinics may sound attractive to parents and youngsters seeking aggressive regenerative therapy,” said Best, who is past president of ACSM. “But far more scientific research is necessary to determine if those treatments are helpful in overcoming sports injuries and, more importantly, without serious short- or long-term side effects.”


Seven-Point Call to Action:

1. Exercise caution in treating youth with cell-based therapies as research continues.

2. Improve regulatory oversight of these emerging therapies.

3. Expand governmental and private research funding.

4. Create a system of patient registries to gather treatment and outcomes data.

5. Develop a multi-year policy and outreach agenda to increase public awareness.

6. Build a multidisciplinary consortium to gather data and promote systematic regulation.

7. Develop and pursue a clear collective impact agenda to address the “hype” surrounding regenerative medicine.

Reflecting on the evidence, the study’s authors wrote, “Despite the media attention and perceived benefits of these therapies, there are still limited data as to efficacy and long-term safety. The involvement of clinicians, scientists and ethicists is essential in our quest for the truth.”

The Call to Action special communication is published in the May/June 2017 issue of ACSM’s Current Sports Medicine Reports (CSMR). As an official review journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, Current Sports Medicine Reports is unique in its focus entirely on the clinical aspects of sports medicine. It harnesses the tremendous scientific and clinical resources of ACSM to develop articles reviewing recent and important advances in the field that have clinical relevance. The journal’s goal is to translate the latest research and advances in the field into information physicians can use in caring for their patients.