One of the biggest overlooked areas for professional athletes is the importance of the health of connective tissue. The regenerative medicine products available today can restore that potential loss and joint stability that professional athletes can experience over their careers, helping to bring the athlete back to their previous function.
Tragically, there are many athletes who can’t reach their full potential because they run into an injury that sets them back from their peak training conditions or even worse, is career ending.
Anyone who has competed in athletics knows that taking care of one’s body to perform optimally is the number one priority. Different sports focus on certain body parts more than others, but one truth across all sports remains: the loss of functionality or an injury to a critical body part needed to compete in the professional sports world can lead to the end of one’s professional career. In the NBA, there is one injury that seems to signal the beginning of the end in its players: an Achilles Tendon injury.
KEVIN DURANT IS THE BEST-CASE SCENARIO AFTER ACHILLES INJURY
One of the league’s biggest names is small forward Kevin Durant. Durant suffered a ruptured right Achilles injury during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in 2019. The problem in professional basketball at times is that players and coaches can be too optimistic when it comes to their players getting hurt. While fans and players alike were suspecting an Achilles injury, the Warriors said that KD only had a “calf strain.” Consequently, Durant was out for the entire 2019-2020 season. Durant eventually returned on December 22, 2020, and is still an active NBA player in the present day. Though it worked out for him, he has expressed sadness at losing momentum. No NBA player wants to suffer an injury that takes them out for a whole season at the peak of his career.
DEMARCUS COUSINS AND LOSING NBA MARKET VALUE
Another victim is Former NBA player Demarcus Cousins who suffered an Achilles injury in January 2018 during a game against the Houston Rockets. Once players have a history of injuries, it is imperative that they take the proper amount of recovery time. Playing prematurely can lead to more injuries and worse, being ineligible to play because of additional damage done to the leg. Because Cousins is a center, his position involves a lot of jumping. It is his responsibility to protect the rim and get the rebound which can put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendons. After his injury, Cousins played for the NBA until 2022. Even though he continues to play professional basketball, one can’t help but point out how his injury lowered his market value in the NBA which led to less playing time and prompted him to leave the NBA to get more minutes in a different league.
THE END OF THE LATE KOBE BRYANT’S CAREER
Rounding out the roster of Achilles heel injuries in the NBA is the late Kobe Bryant whose career ended due to issues with his Achilles. It was a 2013 injury that signaled the beginning of the end for Bryant whose heart still wanted more years in the NBA, but ultimately knew that his body was done. Following his injury, he was out for nearly nine months. He eventually made the decision to retire with a poignant letter entitled “Dear Basketball” and played his last game on April 13, 2016. Having such an inspiring and lauded career come to an earlier end because of Achilles heel injuries is heartbreaking for fans and admirers.
DUNKING ON THE PROBLEM
About 35% of Achilles injuries are sports related. Standard care practices for Achilles tendinosis vary from over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or corticosteroid injections with functional rehabilitation therapy to surgical intervention in severe cases. These costs can range upwards of $15k for a surgical repair and do not guarantee complete pain relief. The rising annual number of surgeries is enough to implement conservative protocols alternative to invasive surgical repair of the Achilles tendon.
Given the many burdens that an Achilles injury leads to, Regenative Labs seeks to provide their Wharton’s Jelly allograft as another option. “This is just one of many homologous-use applications in regenerative medicine to improve patient outcomes,” shared Regenative Labs CEO Tyler Barrett. Barrett is committed to providing patients with alternative options to better address the root cause of their pain. Results after treatment vary, as seen above, but the hope is that Regenative Labs can provide a solution that will give athletes a fighting chance to return to their sport.
Board-certified in foot and ankle surgery and lower extremity nerve specialist, Dr. Robert Parker had this to say about the issue, “ As practitioners, we all share the knowledge that long-acting steroids, the acetates, are not only detrimental to tendons, they are in my opinion, contraindicated. This is especially true around larger tendons such as the Achilles. We also know the effect of short-acting steroids, the phosphates, though not as destructive, may give some pain relief but do absolutely nothing to help tissues heal themselves. I am very encouraged and optimistic about utilizing umbilical cord connective tissue as a structural allograft which helps my patients’ own tissues heal themself even at multiple sites besides the Achille’s tendon.”
Both Barrett and Dr. Parker are committed to providing patients with alternative options to better address the root cause of their pain. Results after treatment vary, as seen above, but the hope is that Regenative Labs can provide a solution that will give athletes a fighting chance to return to their sport.