John Patterson is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. Over the course of his career he started for two MLB franchises, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals. In May of 2007, Patterson began to experience elbow problems. In an effort to promote healing and expedite the relief of both the pain and discomfort caused by the injury, he opted to undergo PRP therapy.
John Patterson and PRP Treatment
Whether or not the outcome is a successful one for a person undergoing PRP therapy depends on the athlete and their body’s chemical reaction to it. The same is true of other therapies. No form of treatment works for everyone. Trial and error is often a necessary part of the recovery process. It may take some time before an effective solution for the injured individual is determined. What works for one person, may not work for another.
John Patterson opted for PRP therapy because he hoped that the treatment would expedite the healing process. His other option, resting the elbow, would have taken more time and may or may not have been effective. Many professional athletes after undergoing PRP have been able to return to their sports much sooner than traditional therapies would normally have allowed for.
PRP therapy has been used for some time but in other fields of medicine. For the past 20 years, it has been used in the field of dentistry. Today, it is being used with increased frequency to treat patients who have undergone cardiovascularsurgery and in the orthopedic field.
PRP therapy involves the use of a patient’s own blood to jump start and then accelerate the healing process. A doctor will draw a small amount of the patient’s blood into a test tube. The test tube is placed in a centrifuge where it is spun and the blood’s components separated. Blood is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The platelets are removed and then injected into the injured body part. In Patterson’s case, they were injected into his elbow.
PRP therapy works by activating the body’s natural healing processes. Platelets contain growth factors, which are naturally occurring protein molecules. Platelets enhance tissue healing and regeneration. By extracting a concentrated amount of platelets and thus growth factors, the healing process is often accelerated.
Unfortunately, the procedure did not alleviate the compressed nerve in Patterson’s elbow. He would eventually have to have surgery to decompress the radial nerve in his elbow in September of that year. PRP therapy is considered a breakthrough therapy for soft tissue, bone conditions. However, like any other treatment, it doesn’t work for everyone. While it has proven to be effective for some athletes, such as Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods, it hasn’t proven so for all patients.
PRP therapy is considered to be an experimental medical procedure. Because of this, while it is utilized in the United States, it is not covered by most insurance companies. The fact that it is experimental has not deterred many professional and recreational athletes. Well known athletes such as Hines Ward, LaRon Landry, Tiger Woods and Troy Polamalu have undergone PRP therapy with great success.
Injury and PRP Therapy Timetable
- May 2007: Patterson develops a nerve problem in his elbow
- June 2007: Patterson undergoes PRP Therapy
- September 2007: Jackson undergoes surgery to decompress the radial nerve in his elbow