4 Reasons Athletes Are the Among Biggest Fans of Regen Medicine
If you are a physician already familiar with orthopedic regenerative medicine despite not offering it in your own practice, you probably have the world of pro sports to thank. Athletes are among the biggest fans of regenerative medicine procedures including stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.
You could probably make the case that pro athletes brought regenerative medicine out of the back alley and into the mainstream. Athletes from every major sport have been looking to stem cell and PRP therapies for more than a decade. A lot of them have found success in so doing.
So what is it about regenerative medicine the athletes love? According to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) based in Salt Lake City, it is not just one thing. In fact, there are a number of things that make regenerative medicine attractive.
1. Faster Recovery Times
Recovering from a devastating injury is never easy. Things are made harder when an injury is treated with invasive surgery. Not only does the athlete have to recover from the injury itself, he or she also has to recover from surgery. The minimally invasive nature of regenerative medicine means less time for recovery – both in terms of the injury and its treatment.
There are numerous examples of professional baseball pitchers making complete recoveries using stem cell or PRP treatments instead of Tommy John surgery. While regenerative medicine doesn’t work for every pitcher, it has worked for many of them.
2. Minimal Risks
A big advantage of stem cell and PRP therapies over other treatments is minimal risk. For example, patients donate their own blood for stem cells for the treatment. This completely eliminates the risk of rejection. There’s also very little risk of infection or other complications. The same cannot be said for surgery, long-term pain medication, etc.
3. Injury Prevention
By its nature, regenerative medicine seeks to promote natural healing. As such, regenerative medicine can be as preventative as it is restorative. By encouraging the body to naturally heal instead of merely managing symptoms, regenerative medicine offers a more complete solution that leads to better health. In return, better health reduces the risk of future injury.
4. Career Extension
The fourth reason athletes are among the biggest fans of regenerative medicine is its potential for extending careers. Consider the previously mentioned pitchers. As commonplace as Tommy John surgery is, it offers no guarantees. For every pitcher who makes it back to the mound following surgery there is another whose career is ended by it.
An athlete facing the potential end of his career essentially has nothing to lose. If a regenerative medicine procedure doesn’t work, that athlete can always take his chances on a more drastic treatment. But if the therapy does work, that athlete’s career could be extended for a few more seasons.
The Same Things Apply
The four reasons athletes are big fans of regenerative medicine also apply to your patients. Some of those patients are amateur athletes and weekend warriors. Others give very little time to competitive sports, yet still want to stay in whatever game they are involved in for as long as possible. This is the primary reason organizations like the ARMI encourage doctors to think about offering stem cell and PRP therapies.
There are plenty of great reasons to be trained as a regenerative medicine clinician. You learned four of them here. If you would like to learn more, just ask your patients what they think. You might be surprised by how many really want you to start offering stem cell and PRP injections.