Time to Stress Test PRP and Stem Cell Products

Orthopedic This Week—October 2, 2012

For years platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used to treat tendons for injury and degeneration—with more anecdotal evidence than high level scientific study based evidence. The same has been true of the use of stem cells. Recently researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Football League (NFL) Charities to research the use of PRP and stem cells as treatments for tendon injury. NFL players and other athletes suffer from tendon overuse injuries and they need new treatments.

"We don't have a treatment that works 100 percent of the time, so there is room for improvement," said Scott Rodeo, M.D., co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service for Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "Many people are weekend warriors and they suffer from tendon overuse injuries. Hopefully, our study will be able to help a lot of these people." Rodeo, who will be heading up the research, has been associate team physician for the New York Football Giants since 2000.

Researchers hope that their work will lead to the development of an effective therapeutic strategy for tendinopathy that will allow NFL players to return to competition more quickly.

The grant money will be used to investigate how degenerated tendons respond to PRP and bone marrow-derived stem cells as well as if these two treatments will be synergistic if they are combined. Among the goals of the research are to examine the structural and mechanical properties of the treated tendon tissue to see how it responds to PRP and stem cells.

In recent years, physicians have found that some, but not all, patients with tendon disorders respond to treatment with PRP.

Further, the researchers hope to be able to address the question of whether PRP treatments actually help heal the tendon structure or just ameliorate the pain.

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