Getting Up And Running Faster

Knee replacement
CBS/AP
Last year, Jonathan Bornstein emerged as on of the best young soccer players in the country; he was named rookie of the year in Major League Soccer, but everything changed this spring when he twisted his knee in practice.

"I knew something was wrong and I knew that I was going to have to take some time to heal," Bornstein says.

Jonathan had suffered a torn ligament in his knee. He would be out of action for six to10 weeks, CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports.

"I was pretty bummed to find out I might be missing the first game, maybe a couple more games," Bornstein says. "I didn't think there was much I could do to get back earlier."

But Dr. Michael Gearhart did. A leading sports medicine expert; he believes we can speed up the body's ability to heal itself with a remarkably simple technique.

It's called Platelet Rich Plasma therapy — or PRP. Doctors spin a few tablespoons of a patient's own blood, separating out the platelets. Normally, platelets help the blood to clot — they also promote healing. With PRP, this concentration of platelets is injected directly into the injury. In Jonathan's case, his knee.

"Platelets are an amazing substance, they are packed full of growth factors of healing factors and when given into a specific area you get a hyper healing response," Dr. Michael Gearhart says.

Jonathon was thrilled to get back on the field quickly.

"I was back running in three weeks, and I was ready for fit play, ready to play in about four and a half, five," Bornstin says.

Doctor are now taking the first steps to move this treatment beyond the world of the elite athlete. The hope is the same technology that allowed Jonathan to get back to the field so quickly, can now be used to treat injuries in weekend warriors as well.

Anosheh Emery is trying PRP as a last resort to help his chronic tennis elbow and painful knee tendonitis. He is one of the few patients to get it — clinical trials are now testing its safety and effectiveness. Side effects have reportedly been minor; it seems like the biggest problem so far is an everyday medical reality: the needles hurt.

"Its painful but its nothing you can't bear," Emery says. But the pain was worth it. "Oh, definitely. They say, 'no pain, no gain.' I definitely had some pain, and there was a lot of gain."

The hope is that if PRP can get an elite athlete like Jonathan up and running; it can help the baby boom generation and their creaky joints get back in the game.