Website Bling vs. Clinical Reality… NSI Stem Cell

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This past weekend my wife and I went to see a movie, and the above ad was in the lobby. It took us a second, but as soon as we recognized the message as a “bull in a china shop,” we both knew that this was a blog post in the making. This morning I’d like to go into the plethora of bling websites hitting the Internet versus the clinical reality of what’s on the ground. I’d also like to let you in on a simple little secret I use to get a sense of what you’re getting. All of this will, of course, results in me being a bull in the china shop of bling websites trying to convince you of their bona fides when little actually exists.

My Little Secret

I’m the family trip planner, and I love to make sure that I book the right hotel or VRBO. I use a little trick that has never failed me. First, I find the address of the location, and then I use Google street view to literally walk around the neighborhood to get a sense of where we’ll be staying. I’ve found cool things and unsettling things that have caused me to look elsewhere. As an example, a train track that’s one row of houses over is a deal breaker.

You can do the same with these blingy stem cell websites you see popping up on the Internet. Usually, these are chiro clinics that have hired a nurse practitioner and then called themselves integrative health centers. Sometimes there’s a physician that works there part-time. When the same practice-management group they used to hire a nurse or doctor for the practice approaches them about offering magic stem cell therapies, the nurse begins performing stem cell injections. This is when the bling stem cell template goes up…

The first thing I do is to perform a Google search on the address for the office and then go to street view, where I look around until I find the location and then zoom in. You can learn a lot about what you’re getting by merely peeling back the bling on the site and googling what the facility looks like, what the sign on the door says, and where it’s all located.

I’ll go through a website (NSI Stem Cell) randomly that I was sent by a colleague in the past 24 hours. This really could be any one of the hundreds of new websites popping up offering stem cell therapy, so it’s not my intention to pick on anybody.

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Example A—National Stem Cell Institute

A colleague sent me a website recently for National Stem Cell Institute (NSI Stem Cell). Sounds impressive. The website looks very well done. I, of course, can see that when I go to the research section, there’s nothing of substance there, but the average consumer may miss that detail. It’s also really concerning that this clinic offers to treat everything from MS to ALS to knee arthritis. I also get suspicious when I try to find out the credentials of the MDs practicing there as there is no way to find this information. Hence, I use my little Google street-view trick. This is the website versus the first clinical location:

nsi national stem cell instituteYes, that’s a chiro clinic, located in a strip mall across from the tire store and two doors down from a pawn shop. This is one of the National Stem Cell Institute sites listed on the website. In fact, it’s the first address listed that I Googled. Is this even a medical building with other health professionals? No. Where’s the stem cell institute? Where’s the dedicated team of scientists working to advance the field? Where’s the research staff? The advanced operating rooms and imaging techniques used to guide stem cell placement? The teams of highly qualified and trained MDs pushing the envelope on what’s possible with stem cells? Not here. Turns out NSI Stem Cell is two chiros and a nurse.

The upshot? As you can see, using Google street view and doing a little digging can get you a lot of information to peel back the pretty website and see what’s underneath. This example claims it’s an institute, which means that it has small armies of research scientists toiling away in multimillion-dollar facilities, when in fact it’s a chiro clinic in a strip mall located next to the tire store and two doors down from a pawn shop.

Again, this clinic could be any one of the hundreds popping up all over the Internet that represent chiro practices claiming to be stem cell experts. The only issue is that the bull can be called by the proverbial “bull in the china shop”! In conclusion, please research what’s behind these websites, as what’s being advertised and reality is usually quite different! NSI Stem Cell is a great example of the differences between a website and what’s really on the ground.

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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