Like a growing number of MDI residents, 59 year-old Jake Jacobson of Southwest Harbor keeps the aging process at bay through rigorous exercise. That was until last summer when, in the middle of training for the MDI Half Marathon, he injured in his Achilles tendon. Fortunately for Jacobson his friend and doctor Mark Kandutsch, MD, has introduced a groundbreaking new treatment that uses another natural process to help him avoid surgery and recover quickly from his injury.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP, uses a small amount of the patient’s own blood to activate the body’s natural healing process. Already popular with professional athletes, PRP is gaining acceptance as a treatment for recreational athletes, yet it is still not in widespread use in Maine. In fact, Dr. Kandutsch is the only provider to offer this treatment north of Portland.
PRP can be used to treat tendonopathy, tendonosis, acute and chronic muscle strain, ligament sprains and intra-articular injuries, and joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and and knee meniscus damage not severe enough to make surgery the only option. Because studies reveal that the technique helps regenerate ligament and tendon fibers, it could shorten rehabilitation time and possibly avoid surgery.
The process involves placing a small amount of the patient’s blood in a filtration system or centrifuge that rotates at high speed, separating red blood cells from the platelets that release proteins and other particles involved in the body’s self-healing process. A teaspoon or two of the remaining substance is then injected into the damaged area.
The high concentration of platelets — from 3 to 10 times that of normal blood — often prompt the growth of new soft-tissue or bone cells. Because the substance is injected where blood would rarely go otherwise, it can deliver the healing properties of platelets without triggering the clotting response for which platelets are typically known.
“There is little chance for rejection or allergic reaction because the substance comes from the patient’s own body,” explained Dr. Kandutsch. “The injection carries far less chance for infection than an incision and leaves no scar. It takes only about 20 minutes, with a considerably shorter recovery time than surgery,” he added.
Offering PRP is natural progression for Dr. Kandutsch. He has been providing prolotherapy, another injection-based therapy that engages the body’s own healing process, for 19 years.
“I think it’s a big deal that MDI Hospital has given official clinical privileges to alternative treatments like prolotherapy and PRP,” said Dr. Kandutsch.
While professional athletes like Pittsburgh Steelers Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, used the treatment before winning the Super Bowl, people like Jake Jacobson are just happy to be able to get back to an active lifestyle.
For information on PRP, contact Dr. Kandutsch at Cadillac Family Practice in Bar Harbor at 288-5119