Recently it has been reported that Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has taken an unusual step to try to strengthen his ailing right knee, undergoing an innovative procedure in Germany about a month ago. The procedure, called platelet-rich plasma therapy, consists of centrifuging the patient’s blood to isolate platelets and growth factors. The mix is then injected into the injured area to accelerate healing. The concentrated growth factors have been shown to speed tissue growth and healing. The surgery is considered low-risk and high-reward, however, as it is barely invasive. Because the minimally invasive surgery has a short recovery time and does not restrict movement, there is little downside to seeing if it improves healing in the affected joint.
Here’s the theory behind the procedure: sports injuries happen frequently to areas such as tendons or joints where there may be poor blood supply to provide the building block materials needed to heal that injury. Platelets have been shown to produce certain substances (such as platelet-derived growth factor) that speed up the growth and repair of connective tissues. By injecting a high concentration of platelets into an area that has a poor blood supply, healing may be greatly enhanced. The interesting part is that it’s not super complicated. It’s really only your own blood taken out of a vein and prepared right in front of you and then put back in an area of your condition. So the concept is to try and use within your own body to help heal yourself. This is an opportunity to really take advantage of the body’s own natural ability. Over the past ten years, this procedure has become more widespread as the benefits and evidence of its use has become better known. Other athletes who have had the procedure done include A-Rod, Tiger Woods, Troy Polamalu, and Hines Ward, but you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to get the same treatment. In fact, you don’t have to be a person. We have been successfully utilizing platelet rich plasma therapy on our orthopedic patients for the last two years. No other veterinary practice in Los Angeles has shown itself to be as progressive with minimally invasive or non-invasive medical therapy for injured joints, tendons and/or ligaments. Our protocol of including PRP therapy for our cruciate ligament injury patients has resulted in faster healing times, less progressive degenerative arthritis and a more complete return to function than standard approaches which include invasive arthotomy or arthroscopy of the joint. We are currently utilizing PRP therapy for injured knees, shoulders, elbows, hips, and ankles amongst other ligament/tendon injuries. For more information, check out my article on platelet rich plasma on our website. (http://www.animalmedcenter.com/faqs/category/platelet-rich-plasma-therapy)
Dr. Alan Schulman is a renowned Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon. While he is particularly known for his orthopedic, neurologic, and reconstructive surgical expertise, he...+ Learn More
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