Recently, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez went to Germany to have an experimental procedure called “Orthokine” performed on his right knee; he had undergone surgery on that knee for a torn meniscus last summer.
But what exactly does Orthokine do? Anna McDonald of It’s About The Money spoke to some doctors in the USA about a similar procedure called “Platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP”:
Dr. David Crane, of Crane Clinic Sports Medicine, started looking at some of the information coming out of Germany in regards to biologics. After doing so, he started using Platelet-rich plasma therapies in his practice. Now, Dr. Crane has seen 10,000 plus patients, treated 7,500 patients with PRP and many of his patients have been professional and collegiate athletes.
"I tell people basically we are working on the linkages — the connections between tendon and bone, tendon and muscle," said Dr. Crane. "That’s usually where things tear and have chronic breakdown between tendon and bone and tendon and muscle, or between the meniscus and the bone or the fibers."
Dr. Crane and others interviewed for the linked article say that the US FDA is “more conservative” when approving these sorts of alternative therapies. As far as MLB is concerned:
"MLB is aware of these therapies," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said. "It is the decision of MLB Clubs, based on the advice of their medical staff, whether to allow players to undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy as treatment for an injury. Like any treatment, the views of the medical community are varied on the efficacy of any treatment. The Commissioner’s Office does not regulate player’s medical treatment unless such treatment violates our drug programs."
Platelet-rich plasma therapies are not banned under MLB’s drug program unless the player receives a Prohibited Substance, like HGH, in connection with the treatment.
So this is all cool with MLB — so far, at least. What remains to be seen is whether this actually helps A-Rod return to his former level of performance. He’ll turn 37 in July and hasn’t played in 150 or more games since 2007. There are only so many years an athlete can stave off the ravages of time.