Many people took it with a grain of salt when Matt Harvey tweeted the following:
Thank you everyone for the kind words and support. I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.
— Matt Harvey (@MattHarvey33) August 27, 2013
Surely, this was just Harvey’s competitive, bulldog mentality clouding his judgement. We all know that Tommy John surgery means a minimum of a year, and rest and rehabilitation hasn’t been very successful. But there may be another alternative.
In yesterday’s chat, ESPN’s Keith Law was asked the following question, and gave a very interesting answer, which he backed up with some evidence:
Athletes like Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Rafael Nadal have all used PRP with great results as noted in this article about this relatively new procedure that is growing in popularity.
“Athletes are always seeking an edge and, at an elite level, it makes sense for them to look for any possible shortcut to healing,” said New York University’s Dennis Cardone.
If you haven’t heard about PRP before, I’ll attempt to break it down for you.
PRP, or Platelet-Rich Plasma is blood plasma that is enriched with platelets. A doctor will remove a small amount of blood from the patient. The platelets that carry what’s known as “growth factors” are separated from the blood. Those platelets, which promote and expedite healing, are then injected into the injured area of the body. The procedure may be repeated several or more times, and can be costly– with prices reaching $250 per injection. Obviously, a drop in the bucket for the modern-day athlete.
In the study referenced by Law, the doctors performing the experiment believe that PRP can help heal partial tears of the UCL. The study consisted of 34 athletes who were diagnosed with a similar injury to that of Matt Harvey. Each were given a single PRP injection. They were then put on a course of physical therapy. After being cleared to play, the players returned to their respective sport. The athletes average recovery period was 12 weeks. After an average of 70 weeks, the lab would follow up with the patients. An astounding 88% (30 of 34) had returned to their previous level of performance without issue.
I must admit that when I heard that the Mets were going to take a wait and see approach with Harvey I was upset. I figured he should just go for the surgery and start his road to recovery. He would be ready for the start of the 2015 season, although probably on an innings limit. However, in light of this recent revelation, I’m not so sure. Maybe this is an avenue Harvey and the Mets should pursue.