Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, a preferred treatment of elite athletes, is available in the UAE.
Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, which incorporates pioneering treatments in orthopedic applications, offers the unique plasma therapy in Dubai.
Joint and tendon injuries, ligament tears and other injuries, which are very common among athletes are now increasingly being treated with PRP therapy, where in the past; medications, physical therapy, or even surgery was the only choice.
This treatment is fast becoming the preferred alternative for elite athletes such as golfer Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal and basketball icon, Kobe Bryant, with several more following suit.
While this treatment is making headlines not everything is known about what it entails.
Dr Harold Vanderschmidt, specialist orthopedic surgeon, at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai, sheds some light on PRP.
"Our blood mainly consists of plasma, and other components, such as red cells, white cells and platelets. The platelets, which help blood clot, also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which are very crucial in the healing of injuries.
"PRP simply put, is plasma with a higher concentration of platelets than those found in blood. The density of platelets and growth factors in them can be five to 10 times more than usual. Because the plasma is an extract of the patient's own blood, there are fewer chances of an adverse reaction, or infection, and it can be given multiple times."
Dr Vanderschmidt says to develop a PRP preparation, blood is first drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is injected into the site of injury.
Doctors have used it to treat cases such as Tennis elbow, a condition common in tennis players, where the elbow can become swollen and painful.
PRP can be injected directly into this inflamed tissue with or without local anesthesia.
The benefits though are not immediate, it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect. There are several other conditions that could benefit from PRP treatment.
Dr Vanderschmidt said: "The results of PRP on chronic tendon injuries are encouraging; however, studies are still being done on the rate of its efficacy as a treatment for acute ligament and muscle injuries, or in surgeries to repair torn rotator cuff, and in knee surgery and arthritis. Several factors affect the results of the treatment, including the area of the body being treated, the patient's general health and whether the injury is acute or chronic in nature.
"Platelet-rich plasma therapy holds great potential, and can be a helpful addition to conventional treatment, especially in sports medicine. There aren't too many risks linked it, so it's definitely an option we like offering our patients," Dr Vanderschmidt added.
PRP may also aid healing post-surgery for some injuries, by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery.