If you've ever torn a muscle in your body, you know how painful it is. You also know the road to recovery can often be long, tenuous and nerve wracking. For weeks, and sometimes months, you may not be able to use your body like you normally do.
That's what happened to Chris Waddell, an elite athlete who won twelve medals in downhill skiing, five of which were gold, in four Paralympic Games. He was actually a world-record holder in wheel chair track sprinting, and, in 2009, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, becoming the first paraplegic man to do so.
Waddell did all of this, as you may have guessed, by using his upper body.
"Being able to ask a lot of my body makes me feel good. It's a lot of who I am," said Waddell.
So, when he tore his rotator cuff while weightlifting several years ago, he was devastated. He couldn't lift himself in and out of his chair. "I had no control. When I was getting off of a couch, I had to marshal all of my strength," Waddell noted.
Doctors suggested surgery, but Waddell feared losing his ability to use his arms for several months. That's when a friend suggested trying out platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments instead. In PRP therapy, doctors draw a small amount of blood from the patient and then place it in a centrifuge, a machine that separates its contents into three layers: platelets and white and red blood cells. They inject these platelets into the damaged parts of a person's body.
Studies have shown that PRP can decrease pain and may promote "the functional recovery" of the rotator cuff.
In the weeks after Waddell had PRP injections he began to gain strength back in his shoulder and the pain decrease. PRP is used treat everything from tendons and ligaments to cartilage and nerves.