It was a baseball game day like any other, only this time 25-year-old Andrew Heaney, pitcher for the Anaheim Angels, experienced

elbow pain afterwards. At some point during the game or probably over a series of games before, he partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on the inside of his elbow. After an unsuccessful round of physical therapy and rest, experts took a closer look at the ligament and Heaney had two choices. He could undergo Tommy John surgery to replace the ligament which would put him out of play for 15+ months, or he could look into a new alternative treatment with stem cells.  The stem cells could potentially shorten recovery time by six to twelve months.

Although it is new to many who consider the stem cell procedure, doctors around the world have been using stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP) for years to repair damaged tissue and increase the body’s natural ability to heal. Everyone has stem cells floating around in their body at all times ready to repair and form new tissue. Heaney underwent a procedure where his stem cells were harvested from his bone marrow and injected back into his elbow to repair his partially torn ligament. At the Ozzie Smith Center, we simply harvest stem cells from abdominal fat where adult stem cells are plentiful and inject them directly into the area that needs to heal, including knees, elbows, shoulders and any other damaged joints.

The difference between Heaney and anyone else is that his results are being tracked through ultrasound images and made public. At Ozzie Smith Center we put our patients through an integrated protocol involving Physical Therapy, Regenerative Medicine and Chiropractic each day of their treatment and see truly amazing results. With the public announcement of Heaney’s decision to choose an alternative treatment to surgery, more people and athletes may begin seeking conservative ways to avoid surgery. C.J. Nitkowski, a pitcher who experienced a stem cell treatment five years ago commented, “If it ever becomes conclusive that your own stem cells can help you regenerate ligaments, then why wouldn’t you do it every off-season?” We at the Ozzie Smith center are beginning to think the same thing.