Relieve, Repair and Restore

Regenerative therapies return former athlete to active lifestyle.

Frank DeLauro was very active and athletic during his youth. A high school football player and wrestler, he earned a scholarship in those sports from Hofstra University in New York. Frank also participated in taekwondo at a competitive level, but later in life, those physically demanding activities caught up with him.

Photo courtesy of Frank DeLauro.

Frank DeLauro

“I developed debilitating arthritis,” shares Frank, now 72. “It’s actually in my family history. My grandmother was bedridden with arthritis back in the ’30s; my father inherited it, and my aunts and uncles all have it. With me, playing sports exacerbated the arthritis, which can be unbelievably limiting.”

When Frank, a Hoboken, New Jersey, native, was 55, his condition progressed significantly into both of his hips. To maintain the level of activity he enjoyed at the time, Frank underwent bilateral hip replacement surgery.

“I had a great surgeon,” Frank reports. “He worked on Bo Jackson, the professional football and baseball player. And just like it did with Bo Jackson, my treatment turned out wonderfully.”

For 10 years after the hip surgeries, Frank continued to manage his severe neck and back pain. In 2010, his condition became so painful and debilitating that Frank was declared totally disabled.

“At that point, I was in a wheelchair most of the time,” Frank recalls. “I could walk but I needed a cane and could go no more than 200 feet. I couldn’t stand for more than five minutes either, so I wasn’t very active.”

Frank’s condition continued to worsen, and he soon began suffering knee, shoulder and back pain that made everyday tasks unbearable. Desperate for relief, Frank sought help from another orthopedic surgeon.

That physician explained that Frank’s joints and spine were riddled with degenerative osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, and that he was also suffering from stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, and degenerative disc disease.

Unfortunately, the advice Frank received regarding treatment for his pain only made him feel worse. The orthopedic surgeon told him that to become active again, he would need to undergo replacement surgery on his ailing joints and have spinal fusion procedures done on his neck and lower back.

“He told me I needed the spinal fusion if I ever wanted to walk or stand again without pain,” Frank remembers. “I thought, I’m not going through five more major surgeries. There’s got to be another way.”

“Regenerative medicine is a wonderful alternative to going under the knife. It worked wonderfully for me.” – Frank

Overwhelmed, Frank began searching for another solution. Through his own research, he discovered regenerative therapy and initially consulted with Nicole Hadjadj, the director of regenerative treatment with Nona Medical Arts, which has clinics in Merritt Island and Orlando.

“Frank first came to us for a consult wishing to avoid having multiple surgeries,” Nicole reports. “Our first order of business was to treat his neck and lower back, which we treated with a combination of stem cell, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and high-level laser therapy.”

The combination of therapies helped Frank significantly with his debilitating pain and immobility.

“Within a month of starting treatment, I was able to get rid of my cane,” Frank exudes. “After about three months, my neck felt so much better that I could move it rather freely and these clicking sounds that I always heard from my spine were reduced tremendously. After about six months, those clicks were gone completely, and I had full mobility in my neck.”

Primary Mission

At Nona Medical Arts, Nicole works alongside Richard E. Gayles, MD, a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management specialist. Dr. Gayles is the practice’s founder and medical director. Nona Medical Arts offers comprehensive treatment protocols for patients such as Frank with complicated pain.

“Unfortunately, many regenerative medicine offices have adopted a one-size-fits-all, inject-and-release standard,” Nicole explains. “Rather than utilizing this type of approach, we evaluate each candidate and develop a protocol tailored to each person’s specific problem.

“We pride ourselves on staying at the forefront of the regenerative medicine and pain management field while treating every patient like our only patient. We offer conventional pain management treatment as well as out-of-the-box, regenerative therapies. And we are very big on using a combination of therapies, not just stem cells.”

“We perform various injections if indicated by the patient’s clinical condition,” Dr. Gayles adds. “These include injections into the large joints and spinal injections that range from epidurals to facet blocks to rhizotomy, which targets specific nerve roots. We also perform kyphoplasty to treat vertebral compression fractures.”

Unfortunately, traditional pain management techniques alone do not always alleviate a patient’s pain. It’s in those cases that Dr. Gayles turns to regenerative medicine techniques such as stem cells, PRP and high-energy laser therapies to help repair the source of the pain.

“There are some other cell-based products for the spine and large joints that we utilize,” Dr. Gayles notes. “The use of these additional cell-based products is determined by the patient’s age, health history and chronic pain condition. That’s part of tailoring the treatment for each specific patient.”

Some of the cell-based products that Nona Medical Arts uses include exosomes and placental or cord blood cells.

“Exosomes are extra-cellular vesicles that drive existing stem cells from within the body to the damaged area,” Dr. Gayles educates. “They are filled with growth factors that enhance tissue growth and repair.

“And while we prefer to utilize autologous stem cells, meaning the patient’s own stem cells, that is sometimes not possible. If that’s the case due to advanced age or medical history, that’s when we offer the use of donor placental cell or cord blood cell products in our combination treatment protocols.”

Two-Time Champion

Two years after having his spine treated successfully through regenerative techniques, Frank received a similar regenerative therapy protocol on his shoulders and knees. Those treatments were effective in allowing Frank to avoid undergoing the multiple joint replacement and spine surgeries his doctor had once recommended.

“About nine to 12 months after being treated at Nona Medical Arts, my shoulders felt much better,” Frank reports. “And just as it was with my spine, the pain and clicking in my knees eventually subsided.

“The folks at Nona Medical Arts even gave me some advice on an exercise routine that I follow religiously to this day. I also stretch for an hour and 10 minutes every day and go to the gym three days a week, and I feel great.

“I can walk forever now, and even play bocce ball. I’ve been on two championship teams, and that alone shows the improvement in my spine. You can’t really bend over and throw a bocce ball while sitting in a wheelchair.

“Regenerative medicine is a wonderful alternative to going under the knife. It worked wonderfully for me. My mobility has increased to the point where I was also able to go back to work at Viera East Golf Club as a starter.

“I thank God and the great staff at Nona Medical Arts for giving me back my life.”

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    • Nona Medical Arts

      Regenerative Medicine & Pain Management at Nona Medical Arts Stem cell therapy, PRP & pain management, designed for those who want to live life pain-free without drugs or invasive surgery. Nona Medical Arts provides you wi... Read More

    • Richard E. Gayles, MD

      Richard E. Gayles, MD, is board-certified in anesthesiology and pain management. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Doctor of Medicine degree from University of Michigan School of ... Read More