In various types of sports, athletes go through numerous injuries such as torn tendons, muscles, and ligaments. In order to heal the damaged tissues many athletes – both professional and amateur – are turning to PRP or platelet-rich plasma therapy. During the treatment, doctors withdraw a small bottle of the patient’s blood. Next, they spin it through a rotating device to separate the platelet-rich plasma from other elements in the blood. Afterwards, the concentrated platelets are injected at the place where the injury occurred. In conjecture, many believe the growth aspects that platelets secrete encourage tissue renewal.
Athletes like Tiger Woods have received PRP therapy. In addition, Takashi Saito, a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, was fit enough to return to baseball after PRP injections during the 2008 Major League Baseball playoffs.
While many doctors have been using PRP therapy for around two decades to assist with many recovery procedures, just in the past year the treatments have become popular for sports-related injuries. According to a well-known doctor of osteopathic medicine, “Only recently, has PRP therapy become the modus operandi. After publicity about two Pittsburgh Steelers using it prior to winning the Super bowl, demand for this type of therapy has increased dramatically.”
PRP Effectiveness in Question
Despite usage amongst athletes, the effectiveness of PRP therapy in sports medicine is not full-proof. One of the developers of PRP usage for athletes – Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea – was apprehended for reportedly trafficking human growth hormones (HGH) and Actovegin into the United States.
In the US, these embryonic performance improvement drugs are illegal. What makes the effectiveness of PRP therapy suspect is because Dr. Galea had treated Tiger Woods and a few other athletes with this treatment, none of which had any significant improvment. The arrest of Dr. Galea had encouraged suspicion that he had amalgamated HGH with PRP therapy.
PRP Hopes and Limitations
As well known international specialists studied five years of carrying out thousands of PRP injections and making numerous articles public, they have discovered that many factors can restrict and aid healing. Because PRP therapy uses the patient’s own blood to heal, experts have learned that every patient is unique and there isn’t a generic approach for everyone.
In fact, PRP was first used more than 20 years ago in the Dental profession to improve wound healing during jaw reconstruction in cancer patients. Almost immediately afterwards the PRP phenomena had spread across many areas of medicine from orthopedics to cardiovascular surgery. Manifold studies are in progress to assist with future refinement and treatment of PRP to prove its usefulness.
Samantha Wideman is part of a team of writers and specializes in writing about current news events.