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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How baseball players are trying stem cells to avoid Tommy John

Today, Garrett Richards is darting 98-mph fastballs again. “I feel as good as I ever have throwing a baseball,” he said Monday from Tempe Diablo Stadium, where the Los Angeles Angels, perhaps the most Tommy John-addled team in baseball, expect to break camp with Richards as their opening day starter. The 28-year-old is the latest player to turn to orthobiologics, the class of treatments that includes stem cells and PRP, in hopes of healing an injury. While clinical studies have shown great success with those who use orthobiologics, they are not yet a panacea for the pervasive elbow injuries in baseball for two reasons: They work only on partial ligament tears, like Richards’, and medical studies have yet to validate their efficacy independent of other treatments run concurrently.

The lack of knowledge as to how orthobiologics work inside the body – while the proteins in stem cells and platelets are believed to regrow damaged tissue, doctors have yet to isolate best practices for particular injuries – speaks to the difficulties in true medical advances. Still, the desire of Richards and others to avoid surgery lends orthobiologics enough credence to warrant further studies.

“I truly think this kind of treatment has significant potential,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a longtime orthopedic surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles who introduced orthobiologics to Major League Baseball when he injected PRP into the elbow of Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito in 2008.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 04:48 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: garrett richards, science, stem cell

 

 

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