Posted: Nov 18, 2011
New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon’s career was presumed over. He had no contract and was afflicted with injury and effects of aging. But Colon was not ready to give up. He elected to have stem cells taken from his own body and injected into his injured shoulder and elbow in hopes of reinvigorating his once vital pitching career.
By the end of the season, Colon had won eight games with the third lowest earned run average amongst the Yankees’ starting pitchers. He pitched 63 more innings than he had in the last two years combined – the most he’d thrown in six seasons. Overall, Colon’s 2011 season was his best since he won the 2005 Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher.
Did Colon’s stem cell injection contribute to this success?
This question and the use of stem cells as a treatment option were recently discussed on NPR’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. “You’re trying to enhance the healing process,” said Dr. Rick Lehman, an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the U.S. Center for Sports Medicine, in regards to the procedure. “[Stem cells] are going to recruit blood supply and they’re going to supposedly enhance the healing of the ligament...and improve the healing mechanics, [which will] allow the damaged tissue to heal, certainly much better than it would in a conventional manner.”
Other athletes are turning to stem cells as a treatment option as well. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning underwent a stem cell procedure to aid the bulging disks in his neck and back.
To hear the entire NPR segment, click here.
This was an experimental procedure and there are no published results that support this treatment.