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New Platelets Treatment Helps Athletes Recover from Injury Without Surgery

Astros fans have seen Doug Brocail pitch many times from the mound. But last May, he made a play for first that took him off the mound for months.

“When I hit the bag there was a popping sound and I was in excruciating pain,” said Brocail.

At the time, the smallest movements were difficult for Brocail.

“He couldn’t straighten his leg all the way, he couldn’t walk,” said physical therapist Matt Holland.

Brocail had pulled his hamstring from the bone.

“Doug ruptured the hamstring on his landing leg, which is extremely dependent on hamstring strength for a professional pitcher,” said Dr. David Lintner, an orthopedic surgeon at the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine and the Astros’ team physician.

Surgery would have ended Brocail’s season, so Lintner suggested a new treatment called Platelet Rich Plasma Injections, or PRP.

PRP requires drawing blood from the patient and placing it in a centrifuge machine, which separates the patient’s platelets from their blood. Fifteen minutes later, the platelets are injected back into the site of the patient’s injury. The platelets accelerate the healing process.

“It takes an injury that may take three or four weeks to resolve and helps it settle down to a week to 10 days,” said Lintner.

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