Platelet-rich plasma therapy is the procedure many athletes are undergoing in an effort to treat various conditions including tendonitis, arthritis, chronic joint inflammation, cartilage defects, and muscle strains. Platelet-rich plasma therapy uses the patients’ own blood to control pain and increase functionality.
The blood is centrifuged and separated into three layers – the serum, platelets and white blood cells, and red blood cells. The platelets release over 1,000 biologically active proteins that facilitate tissue regeneration. There have been several human and animal studies that have shown very promising results, such as the 2012 study out of the Hospital for Special Surgery showing its benefit for knee arthritis. Another study showed that a platelet serum injected into a damaged Achilles tendon in a laboratory animal significantly increased tendon strength and stiffness as well as increased tendon strength and fast-twitch responses.
When Hines Ward was playing wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he sustained a medial collateral ligament sprain in the playoffs. The next day, he was injected with platelet rich plasma. Within two weeks, he returned to make two catches to help the Steelers win the Super Bowl.
“I think it really helped me. The injury that I had was a severe injury, maybe a four- or six-week injury. In order for me to go out there and play in two weeks, I don’t think anyone with a grade-2 M.C.L. sprain gets back that fast,” he said about the PRP procedure.
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