Doc uses body's power of healing itself

Most days, you'll find Pat Brogan on the tennis court.

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"Tennis has been something that's been with me my whole life," Brogan said.

A bad case of tennis elbow has sidelined her more than once.

"I've had tennis elbow so many times over the years that it was debilitating. I couldn't even lift my purse up, it got so bad," she said.

After failing several treatments, Brogan found Dr. Allan Mishra, a clinical assistant professor Stanford University Medical Center, who uses platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to heal injuries.

"The concept is actually ridiculously simple. The power to heal yourself comes from within," Mishra said.

With a simple blood draw, Mishra separates PRP from other blood components using a special machine.

"These are the red blood cells. This is a lot of the plasma, and then this is the platelet-rich plasma," Mishra said.

It is then re-injected into the injured area. PRP contains growth factors that trigger tissue regeneration.

"Your own body has developed the ability to take care of itself, and we're just simply trying to concentrate or maximize that ability," Mishra said.

Studies show that PRP is 93 percent successful, slightly better than surgery. Mishra will soon test PRP to heal damaged cartilage, and it could also help degenerative disc disease in the back.

"If we could rehydrate the disc and have that last over time, that would be a dramatic improvement over what's available right now," Mishra said.

The one-time treatment cured Brogan's elbow pain.

"Six weeks, and I was fully back and never had another ounce of pain again in that location," she said.

She's hoping PRP will do the same for her other elbow.

PRP helps stimulate healing, so results are not immediate. Mishra said patients often notice effects after four weeks and should be fully recovered within three months.

PRP costs about $2,500. Compare that to the average cost of surgery, which is up to $15,000. Right now, there are only a handful of doctors performing this procedure in the U.S.

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