Booster Shot—New Injection Therapy Coaxes the Body to Heal Itself

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection therapy is an emerging nonsurgical procedure—now available at Gwinnett Medical Center—that has shown to harness the body’s natural ability to heal itself. PRP is used to treat wounds, tendons, ligaments and osteoarthritis and has the potential to revolutionize sports medicine and all aspects of orthopedic surgery.

The PRP treatment consists of injecting the platelets from a patient’s own blood directly into an injured area, which stimulates the body’s instincts to repair damaged tissue. Platelet-rich plasma is captured by using a centrifuge that rotates at high speed and isolates the platelets from the other parts of the blood. These platelets release proteins and other particles involved in the body’s self-healing process. Finally, a teaspoon or two of the extracted substance is injected into the damaged area, with the help of ultrasound guidance.

The entire PRP injection therapy takes less than 15 minutes and increases the concentration of platelets up to 500 percent.

Experts have never been completely successful in re-creating the body’s biology of healing, despite advances in medicine and rehabilitation. But, “I believe that PRP injection is a very promising therapy for treatment of many acute and chronic injuries to the ligaments and tendons,” says Val Phillips, M.D., a radiologist at GMC. “Several of our patients have reported marked improvement after months of failed conservative treatment.”

Treatment in action
The first PRP patient at GMC was seen by Dr. Phillips in October 2009. A basketball and volleyball player from Lakeview Academy, 16-year-old Molly Gay had been struggling with the common sports injury patellar tendinitis, or “jumper’s knee.” Her inflamed ligaments had pained her for six months, forcing her to sit out half of the 2009 volleyball season. “Playing sports makes her high school experience whole,” says her mother, Dana. “And after trying everything but surgery, it made sense to us to give a procedure with no bad side effects a try.”

Molly left the hospital minutes after her procedure and was excited about her prognosis. In a few short weeks, she would be ready to train for the upcoming basketball season.

From Vim & Vigor, Spring 2010

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