25 February 2009

Platelet Injections

Doping is wrong unless it is the good kind.
From NYT. As many know it is considered against the rules to use any chemical to stimulate red blood cell creation or to undergo transfusions with primed blood. However, it seems that no one is complaining about platelet injections. Blood is taken from a person, centrifuged down to isolate the platelets, and then it is injected into injured tissue. Though not scientifically validated, it appears to enhance ligament and tendon repair. By injecting this fraction into poorly vascularized tissues in the body, platelets can signal for other repair factors to activate and/or migrate to the site of damage.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ team physician, used platelet-rich plasma therapy in July on a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in the throwing elbow of pitcher Takashi Saito. Surgery would have ended Mr. Saito’s season and shelved him for about 10 to 14 months; he instead returned to pitch in the September pennant race without pain. Dr. ElAttrache said he could not be certain that the procedure caused the pitcher’s recovery — about 25 percent of such cases heal on their own, he said — but it was another encouraging sign for the nascent technique, which doctors in the field said could help not just injuries to professional athletes but the tendinitis and similar ailments found in the general population.
The jury is definitely still out on this technique. With several studies coming in the next year or so, we will have a better idea. At that point, I wonder if anyone will have a problem with this technique . . . I doubt it. It probably is not based too much on a chemical or too bizarre.

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