Major League Baseball pitcher Colin Rea has been held back from reaching his potential by a nagging elbow injury that is finally getting the treatment it needs. As he told the media after his diagnoses, “Every pitcher kind of goes through some soreness here and there throughout the season… For me, that’s what it was. It wasn’t anything more. It was something I was able to throw through. It didn’t bother me at all. Then, obviously, in the start on Saturday, it just got a lot worse in those last couple innings to the point where I couldn’t throw anymore.”
It was originally believed that Rea would be undergoing a “Tommy John” surgery, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction named after the first pitcher to receive the treatment. However, Rea was hesitant to rely on a total elbow reconstruction and instead sought second opinions from three independent physicians. In the end, Rea opted to receive platelet-rich plasma injections into his elbow instead.
According to Dr. Luga Podesta, former team physician for the Dodgers and Angels and current director of sports medicine at St. Charles Orthopedics in New York, “I think it’s an excellent way to treat guys. We know now that Tommy John doesn’t always hold up.” PRP treatments are becoming increasingly popular in sports medicine as a promising alternative to invasive surgeries.
Why is PRP so Effective?
Platelet-rich plasma is actually created from a patient’s own blood. The blood is placed in a centrifuge, which creates plasma with more concentrated platelets. Platelets contain critical growth factors and small proteins that stimulate the body’s natural healing process, especially the rapid healing of tissue trauma. Since PRP harnesses concentrated amounts of platelets, one injection can help a player’s injured body heal far more efficiently.
By choosing PRP to alleviate his elbow condition, Rea has reduced his recovery time from an entire year to no more than a month or two. It’s no wonder that sports superstars like Kobe Bryant and Chris Davis have also relied upon PRP to save their bodies—and careers.