Tracy Cook, NP-C
Everywhere we look today we see ads, articles and commercials talking about Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) being used in the medical field. How can the average consumer separate fact from hype? Is one better than the other? Both therapies have unique and remarkable qualities. So, what are the differences between PRP and stem cell therapy?
Stem cells have the ability to self-renew and to differentiate into different cells. Stem cells remain in our bodies throughout life, waiting for a chemical signal to alert them to the needs of the body. They can become whatever type of cell is needed for repair, re-growth, replacement and regeneration, including skin, bone, cartilage, blood, organs and brain.
There are various types of stem cells, but the type that is responsible for remarkable growth in stem cell therapy today is the adipose (fat)-derived stem cells. The body stores adipose stem cells in the fatty tissue layer beneath the skin. These stem cells are exceptionally potent and easy to harvest. Already over twenty treatments have been developed and are in practice as FDA guidelines-compliant procedures. As research and clinical trials continue to expand, more therapies become available.
Platelet Rich Plasma became known largely due to professional sports. As well-known athletes such as Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez began using PRP to treat career-related injuries, both the public and medical community at large took notice.
PRP is derived from the blood and undergoes a process called centrifugation where the blood is broken down into three main components: Platelet Poor Plasma (PPP), PRP and red blood cells. The platelet rich plasma holds a concentration of platelets that is five to ten times the number of platelets found in blood. Platelets hold natural growth factors. The PRP can stimulate healing in bone and soft tissue. They can decrease inflammation, improve cell growth and provide signaling to the body for healing and regrowth. There is no risk of rejection with the therapy because the PRP is made from the patient’s own blood.
Although PRP was initially studied to treat orthopedic injuries it was also found to help with hair loss for both men and women, vaginal rejuvenation and with anti-aging therapies.
PRP and/or stem cell therapy have been studied to safely and effectively treat many conditions and injuries including: arthritis, joint pain/injury, autoimmune diseases, erectile dysfunction (ED), neuropathy and Parkinson’s disease.
Both PRP and stem cell treatments are often used as enhancement aids in the traditional treatment of heart disease, liver disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury. Great optimism is growing among health care providers for the future of stem cell and PRP therapies in the treatment of ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.
Continue to watch these developing technologies as health care professionals work to find safe and effective ways to treat our patients.
Tracy Cook is an Adult Nurse Practitioner who owns and operates a private medical practice, Adult Health Services, is a resident of Robson Ranch and a Living Well committee member. For any questions or more information please visit her website www.adulthealthservices.com.