Recovery formula, straight from your veins

When professional boxer Sharif Bogere aggravated a nagging Achilles injury during a fight in March, it seemed as though recovery would sideline his career indefinitely.

But Bogere decided to forgo traditional treatment — surgery — in favor of an experimental one that, until 2011, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency: platelet-rich plasma, also called PRP or blood spinning.

“I never heard of this before,” said his manager, Jimmy Alex. “I say if it will help, let’s try it. It’s better than surgery.”

The tried-and-true treatment for Achilles tendinitis is surgical repair, said Dr. Troy Watson, an orthopedic surgeon at Desert Orthopaedic Center. The recovery takes almost a year. But PRP, which isn’t invasive like surgery, can help speed recovery. Some patients may return to normal activity within a few weeks.

About three years ago, Watson began offering PRP to patients who had foot and ankle injuries. Recently, he administered it to a patient who had tennis elbow. It’s still experimental but many people have reported good outcomes from it, he said. Annually, more than 86,000 athletes receive PRP injections in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It was initially believed to give athletes a competitive edge because it contained growth factors, which is why it was temporarily banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. That ban was lifted in 2011.

“The science behind it makes sense,” Watson said. “I think we’re really on the cutting edge with this.”

PRP is a procedure that uses the patient’s own blood as a healing catalyst. Watson draws a small amount of blood from the patient, then spins it in a centrifuge, separating the platelets from the red blood cells.

“Platelet-rich plasma has a bunch of growth factors,” Watson explains. “These are molecules that turn on other cells that help in the recovery process. We’re hoping they turn on the healing cells.”

Several pro athletes, including Tiger Woods, Hines Ward and Carmelo Anthony, have received PRP for various injuries. That has increased interest among the public, even weekend warriors, Watson said.

Las Vegan Glenus Cooper, 60, was training for a half-marathon two years ago when she injured her Achilles tendon. She continued to train, thinking she could just run through the pain. When it came time to run the race, she could barely walk. So she hobbled the 13 miles. That night, her calf throbbed and ached so much, she couldn’t sleep.

“I’m not one to go to the doctor for running injuries,” Cooper said.

That was her old attitude. Now, she understands just how debilitating a minor injury can become if not properly treated. Recently, she had an MRI that showed her Achilles tendon was torn. Her options were: live with it and limit her activities or have surgery.

Watson presented PRP as an option, too.

“To me, it sounded doable,” she said.

The procedure wasn’t covered by insurance so she had to pay the $500 on her own. But Cooper said the cost is a lot cheaper than surgery. After wearing a boot for four weeks to immobilize her foot, she was almost completely cured.

Cooper’s still taking it easy, alternating slow jogging with walking. But she completed a half-marathon in June and plans to do another one. She puts her recovery at about 99 percent.

Bogere had one PRP injection in March and wore a boot on his foot for a month. Though his mobility returned, he still felt pain so he went in for another PRP injection recently.

“I’m praying to God and everything to get better,” Bogere said. “I’m positive about it. I can’t wait to go back to work and do what I do best.”

Life Videos
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Home Front Page Footer Listing