Before the Super Bowl, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu got a dose of an exciting new medicine: their own blood. They join at least one Major League pitcher, 20 pro soccer players, and many more casual athletes as early adopters of platelet-rich plasma therapy, a shockingly simple new procedure that proponents say could revolutionize sports medicine and all of orthopedics.
Doctors simply inject a patient’s blood directly into the injured area, causing the body’s repair instinct to kick in and speed up recovery. Early signs point to it as an effective way to treat intractable maladies like tennis elbow or knee tendonitis. “It’s a better option for problems that don’t have a great solution,” said one doctor researching the treatment. “It needs a lot more study, but we are obligated to pursue this.”