【Relay-essay】Regenerative Rehabilitation(School of Human Health Sciences, Professor Tomoki Aoyama, Field of Motor Function Analysis)


The word ‘regeneration’ describes a state of renewal or rebirth of something that had been in decline, and hearing the word ‘regeneration’ gives the impression that the fog in front of one’s eyes is lifting. In contrast, the word ‘rehabilitation’ gives the impression of something hard and painful to do.

However, when the origins of the two words are examined, they appear to be quite similar: ‘regeneration’ is ‘re: again + generate: bring forth’, while ‘rehabilitation’ is ‘re: again + habilis: make fit’. Regenerative medicine is ‘medicine that draws out the self-healing ability of injured tissues and organs’, while rehabilitation medicine is ‘medicine that restores functions impaired by disease or trauma, and minimises the obstacles to activity’. In this way, we realise that the aims of both are very similar. Perhaps the difference in the event dimension between regenerative medicine, where the methods and targets are molecules, cells and tissues, and rehabilitation medicine, where the targets are humans and society, has widened the distance between the two images.

If the difference in dimension between the two is removed, both could be even more wonderful. Regenerative medicine tends to focus on the regeneration of the shape and function of tissues and organs, but if it can be shown to contribute more directly to human well-being, the meaning of the word regeneration will shine even brighter. Conversely, if rehabilitation medicine can be shown to promote functional recovery at the molecular and cellular level, it may be said to be a medicine that provides pathological healing rather than alternative medicine.

The term ‘regenerative rehabilitation’ is used to shorten the distance between the two. Although this may sound like a double entendre since the meanings are essentially similar, we hope that by connecting the different levels of the hierarchy with words, we can create a sense of interactivity in each level. Recent research has shown that exercise used in rehabilitation medicine releases cytokines from muscles and bones, which have a positive effect on the cellular level not only on the same locomotor organs but also on the central nervous system and internal organs. This would explain the pathological effects of strengthening muscles, restoring physical fitness and improving mental strength that Hippocrates mentioned as the benefits of exercise.

Now, in addition to cell therapy used in regenerative medicine, rehabilitation techniques have been developed to increase the viability of transplanted cells and promote functional differentiation. Doesn’t that sound like something really wonderful that could happen?

Innovative Rehabilitation Lab, Kyoto University Graduate School of Human Health Sciences


Fig.1:Regenerative medicine (Left) and Rehabilitation medicine (Right)

Fig.2:Targeted Phenomena in Regenerative medicine and Rehabilitation medicine
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