New Idea: Healing Injuries, Arthritis With Blood

Doctors Are Trying Concentrated Blood Plasma Injections for Injuries, Arthritis

ABC News - Good Morning America—February 18, 2009

A handful of sports medicine specialists across the country have been quietly experimenting with a medication-free treatment aimed at healing injuries faster - a concentrated solution of the patient's blood called platelet-rich plasma therapy.

Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl star Hines Ward has tried it, as have other football players and some surgery patients in a few major cities.

Now some doctors are getting direct requests for injections of blood plasma, although the treatments - platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and autologous conditioned plasma (ACP) - have yet to be rigorously studied in the United States.

In the procedure, doctors draw blood, separate the healing platelet cells from the red blood cells and then inject the solution back into the patient's injury. Anyone who has had a swollen limb knows blood naturally flows to injury sites to help healing.

The blood plasma injections might isolate and concentrate those naturally healing properties with the idea to kick-start the body's healing process, or at least accelerate it.

The platelets may have a dual function in healing: one to build a sort of scaffolding on which new tissue would grow, and another to "turn on cells" chemically to start dividing and replacing the broken muscle, tendons and perhaps bone.

Watch the full story in which Dr. Brian Halpern of Hospital for Special Surgery is interviewed at abcnews.com.

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