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Yankees, Lakers and Placebos

Alex Rodriguez photo tks to Keith Allison

As  reported in the L.A. Times, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees ,  flew to Germany last month to get platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRPs on his right knee and left shoulder.  According to the paper, this procedure was recommended to Rodriguez by the Lakers Kobe Bryant, who had similar treatment.

What’s interesting is that this procedure is questioned by medical professionals as having little positive effect.  From the LAT article:  “Take a study published in January 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., which found that injecting patients’ Achilles’ tendons with platelet-rich plasma had about the same effect as injecting them with a saline solution.”

What’s going on here may be another case of the” placebo effect”.

Recent Wall Street Journal and New Yorker Magazine articles discuss the growing interest and debate about the efficacy of the “placebo effect”.  Dr. Kaptchuk, the newly appointed director of Harvard’s Program in Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter is featured in both articles.

On Thursday, January 5th, WAMU.org’s  Kojo Nnamdi talk radio show featured Dr. Kapchuk and Wayne Jonas from the Samueli Institute in Alexandria, VA talking about the placebo effect.  There were not shortage of calls or comments on their web site.

Whatever the efficacy of the “placebo effect” may be, it certainly suggests that there is growing interest by patients and providers in the effect of thought on the body and health.

I will be watching Kobe on the court and A-Rod on the diamond to see if their trips to Germany were worth the effort.