Western and Eastern medicine are often viewed as being on opposite sides of the healing spectrum. Western medicine utilizes pharmaceuticals and medical procedures to ‘fix’ what is broken with the human body while Eastern medicine tends to use more natural means intended to promote the body’s own healing mechanisms. Now, a new kind of medicine aims to combine both philosophies for the benefit of patients. It is called regenerative medicine.
Regenerative medicine is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a form of medicine “with the potential to accelerate healing, repair damaged tissue, and improve pain and function.” Their sports medicine program is constantly looking for ways to use the body’s natural healing properties, via regenerative medicine, for the treatment of sports-related injuries.
In simple terms, regenerative medicine involves the use of stem cells, platelet rich plasma (PRP), and other therapies to encourage the body to regenerate new tissue. That tissue replaces damaged tissue or issue that has been lost due to age or repetitive stress.
How successful is regenerative medicine? Well, research is still being done to determine efficacy. But the results are promising enough that doctors from coast-to-coast are undergoing training so they can begin offering stem cell and PRP therapies in their own clinics. One training company, Apex Biologix, has already trained hundreds of doctors.
Coming out of the Shadows
The relative newness of regenerative medicine has led to it being confined to the ‘shadows’ of Western medicine over the last several years. But things are changing. More doctors are looking at regenerative medicine with an open mind, and patients are responding in kind.
Among the most willing patients are professional athletes whose very livelihoods depend on good health. The last thing a pro athlete wants is to be taken out of the game by an injury that takes months or even years to recover from. Doctors specializing in sports injuries are looking at PRP and stem cell training in the hope of getting their highly-paid clients back in the game.
How popular is regenerative medicine among athletes? Consider a 2014 article published by Sports Illustrated that listed Peyton Manning and Chris Johnson among the NFL players who have already given stem cell therapy a try. According to the article, there are hundreds of NFL players that have already signed on to the stem cell therapy model for recovery from injury.
Regenerative Medicine for Every Day
Doctors now offering PRP and stem cell therapy in their own offices can thank professional sports for bringing this new form of medicine out of the shadows. But it should be known that regenerative medicine isn’t reserved for athletes. It is a new form of medicine being applied to everyday life and people from all walks of that life.
For example, PRP and stem cell therapy training courses teach doctors how to use regenerative medicine to treat patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Think about the implications of that for a minute. Just about every adult suffers from some measure of osteoarthritis with age. If regenerative medicine is even moderately successful for treating osteoarthritis, it will change the lives of millions of people.
Health clinics and training companies like Apex Biologix are working hard to bring regenerative medicine to the masses. They may be helped in the very near future by new FDA rules designed to make approval of certain regenerative medicine procedures easier and quicker. Let’s hope the rules lead to more opportunities for research and implementation of regenerative medicine, a form of medicine that is forcing us to take a new look at healing.