Pulling for Plateletes

We found out two pieces of news about Kenyon Martin today. His patella tendon injury does not appear to be a season ending and he has already received an injection of platelet-rich plasma. Both of those tidbits could not be more vague.

While the Nuggets announced that Kenyon “is expected to return” at some point this season, there is no timeline. No week to ten days or two to four weeks. Expected to return makes me a little bit queasy. I have expected a lot of things to happen that did not happen. I expected the girl I took to homecoming to dance with me. I expected to graduate college in four years. I expected Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to make my summer the best one ever.

I would like to think if something is expected to happen the chances of it occurring are better than 50/50. Then I thought about weather forecasts and if there is only a 30% chance of rain or snow they expect rain or snow. Cold the chances of Kenyon playing again this season really be as low as 30%?

Of course, I am being a little silly. If the team says they expect Kenyon to play again this season, I believe them, but still, the lack of a more specific prognosis is not encouraging.

After a little digging, and by digging I mean I conducted an internet search and clicked on at least three links, the reason why the team cannot give us more specific information on Kenyon’s return is because the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment is a bit of an unknown.

According to Scientific American, which has a really official looking website and might even be a real magazine with subscriptions and everything, is a procedure that has displayed anecdotal success, but is yet to be proven to be more effective than alternative treatments, such as laying on your couch, in legitimate clinical trials.

The procedure involves removing some of your own blood, separating the platelets, thingamabobs from your own blood that your body utilizes to heal itself, and then injecting them into the injured area. The treatment was originally “developed the mid-1990s to aid bone healing after spinal injury and soft tissue recovery following plastic surgery.” More recently the procedure showed signs of speeding the healing of tendons that suffer from microscopic tearing leading to chronic tendinitis especially in locations where there is not a surplus of blood flow.

As mentioned above there have not been any official studies involving humans to prove or disprove the effectiveness of the treatment. Dr. Dennis A. Cardone from the Hospital for Joint Diseases at New York University claims that sometimes patients believe it worked and sometimes it was completely ineffective. Overall he cites a success rate of “maybe around 60 percent.”

If Dr. Cardone is right, perhaps we are looking at a 60 percent chance of Kenyon returning to the floor again this season and thus a 60 percent chance Denver will be a team to reckon with in the playoffs.

Honestly, Denver can handle life without Kenyon for a few games here and there. If they are forced to play without him for a prolonged period of time I think you can kiss any shot at the second or third seed goodbye and perhaps even home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Kenyon is certainly a limited player, but he is the Nuggets’ best rebounder and a very versatile defender. In addition to his defensive abilities, he is a very good passer and was always a threat to score 18 or 20 points. As long as Kenyon can return healthy for the playoffs the Nuggets will still have as good of a chance as anyone to unseat the Lakers although the road will be much more difficult.

The Nuggets have been linked with players such as Mikki Moore and now we can add Jake Voskuhl and Brian Cook. How much do you want to count on any of them at this point in the season? If our worst fears end up a reality and Kenyon is unable to play again this season I am afraid the Nuggets season will be irreparably damaged as well.

Kenyon’s platelets have gotten him through two microfracture surgeries. Hopefully they can come through one more time.

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