Celebrity athletes like Kobe Bryant may have been using platelet-rich plasma injection therapy for sports injuries, and University of Florida students have access to this leading-edge regenerative medicine right in their own backyard at the UF Student Health Care Center, a part of UF Health.
Platelet-rich plasma injection therapy attempts to heal and strengthen tendons and ligaments using the body’s own blood plasma. When injected into the damaged area, the platelet-rich plasma stimulates the tendon or ligament, causing mild inflammation that triggers healing.
“It (PRP injection therapy) is a next-to-last resort in most cases,” said Guy Nicolette, M.D., director of the UF Sports Medicine Fellowship, interim director of the UF Student Health Care Center and a team physician for UF athletics. “It’s not for everybody, but it’s cutting-edge medicine that may work when other treatment options have failed.”
The field of regenerative medicine is still in its early stages. While there is legitimate debate about the application of this particular treatment, evidence began emerging in medical literature in the late 2000s that platelet-rich plasma injection therapy could be beneficial for certain muscle, tendon, ligament and joint problems. As a result, the UF Student Health Care Center began offering the service in 2010 in limited cases where more traditional therapies such as physical therapy were not proving successful. Since then, the center has treated more than 100 patients with platelet-rich plasma injection therapy.