The Oakland Athletics dodged a bit of a bullet this week as they announced that starter Brett Anderson will not have to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Instead he will undergo six weeks of rehabilitation after undergoing a platelet rich plasma injection (PRP) in his left elbow. This treatment option has apparently helped previous A's pitchers dealing with arm issues.
From some basic research around the Internet, PRP injections apparently is meant to accelerate healing of tendon injuries using the patient's own blood. According to the Ortho Healing Center (feel free to take with a grain of salt as it's what I found via Google), PRP treatment is administered as follows:
First, approximately one hour prior to patient's scheduled PRP therapy, the patient's blood is collected and then spun in a centrifuge specifically designed to concentrate platelets for PRP purposes. Second, topical and injected local anesthetic is provided to the affected region. Third, the needle is advanced in real time under musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSKUS) guidance, until the problem target site is reached. There is excellent visualization on MSKUS as the PRP flows into the affected region within 2mm proximity of the anatomical abnormality.
Since that makes little to no sense if you don't have a medical background, I came across some YouTube video showing an example of the process with some basic explanation:
The significant question for A's fans would be how it helps to heal the injured area:
Growth Factors are released from large quantities of activated platelets at the site of injury. This leads to an induced inflammatory reaction that initiates a powerful effective healing cascade. Growth factors stimulate blood flow, promote matrix formation which is the "groundwork" of all soft tissue, restore tendon and ligamentous proteins that may have been previously compromised, and "toughen up" cartilage to become more firm and resilient.
Anderson will apparently follow up with Dr. Andrews in three weeks to assess how his rehabilitation is progressing. While the team has indicated it would be a six week rehab process, we'll likely learn a lot more in three weeks when Anderson meets with Dr. Andrews. Whatever the case, the A's will likely take their time getting Anderson back to avoid aggravating his injury.