platelet-rich plasma controversy

Could the use of platelet-rich plasma help reduce the number of Achilles tendon injuries in gymnastics?

One older Canadian gymnast tells us it worked for her. She linked to a YouTube video doctor’s description of the procedure.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets. As a concentrated source of autologous platelets, PRP contains (and releases through degranulation) several different growth factors (cytokines) that stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue. PRP has received popular attention due to its use in treating sports injuries in professional athletes. …

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is …

From a recent NY Times article:

… Its appeal only soared higher when professional athletes like Tiger Woods and the football players Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward reported that it cured them.

It is a new procedure, based on an idea that once seemed revolutionary: Inject people with their own blood, concentrated so it is mostly platelets, the tiny colorless bodies that release substances that help repair tissues. …

Now, though, the first rigorous study asking whether the platelet injections actually work finds they are no more effective than saltwater. The study, reported in the Jan. 13 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, involved people with injured Achilles’ tendons, fibrous tissue that connects the calf to the heel bone.

“We are sorry for the patients,” Johannes Tol, the lead researcher and a professor of orthopedic research at the Hague Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in an interview this week. “There still is no good treatment.” …

read more – Popular Blood Therapy May Not Work

That doesn’t mean coaches shouldn’t still consider the option. Many have reported success. But there’s no evidence yet that it actually works.

Note that there’s a slight risk of testing positive for a doping infraction after this treatment.

Leave a comment if you’ve had any personal experience with PRP.

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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