Doubts Cast About Trendy Sports Medicine Therapy

Athletes turn to 'blood spinning' to heal faster, but researchers have doubts

Associated Press—April 4, 2010

With opening day around the corner, Cliff Lee didn't have time for another abdominal strain.

He had a similar injury twice before in spring training, and on both occasions it kept him out at least six weeks. This time, Lee was anxious to get back much sooner to help his new team, the Seattle Mariners.

So the pitcher chose an unusual treatment in which his blood was drawn, then a solution created from it injected back into his body. The technique, known as platelet-rich plasma injection therapy, has become trendy among top athletes even though there's doubt in the medical community about whether it works.

Dr. Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery, recently finished a randomized study that showed little difference between patients with rotator cuff injuries who got PRP versus those who did not.

Rodeo agreed the treatment has potential, but also said, "There's a lot we don't know about it," including what is the appropriate dose and timing of treatment to achieve the best results.

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