Not Just for the Famous

Not Just for the Famous

Written on 02/21/2019

Quarterbacks always have to be ready for the next hit, and Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is no different.

Tannehill recently revealed that he isn't taking any chances; he has banked stem cells in the Grand Cayman Islands for future use in healing injuries.

Tannehill, 30, who was drafted in 2012 by the Dolphins, is no stranger to injuries. He experienced a partial tear of his left ACL in 2016 in a game against the Arizona Cardinals, and just a year later, suffered another ACL injury during training camp.

His 2017 ACL injury required surgery.

In the 2018 season, Tannehill missed more than a month of play with a shoulder injury.

These injuries prompted Tannehill to take healing into his own hands and preserve his cells to help him heal from injuries and maintain his quality of life.

Tannehill is not the only pro athlete to turn to stem cells. Many other athletes have undergone stem cell therapy to help treat chronic pain or nagging injuries.

In April 2016, British newspaper The Sun featured a story that famed footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of the Spanish football club Real Madrid underwent stem cell treatment for a knee injury. Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal also opted for stem cell therapy for his knee in 2014. The 17-time Grand Slam winner also elected to go through stem cell therapy a second time that year to treat inflammation in part of his lumbar vertebrae.

Professional baseball player Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers was also a stem cell therapy patient when he was treated with stem cells and platelet-rich plasma injection in February 2016 for chronic knee issues.

Several professional basketball players have also reportedly undergone stem cell treatments, including famed Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and San Antonio Spur Pau Gasol.

Why Stem Cells?

"Stem cells have the potential to heal tissues that typically take a long time to heal, such as those that affect the tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints," said Dr. Bill Johnson, a Dallas, Texas, stem cell physician.

These kinds of injuries often plague professional athletes.

"Swinging a bat, running up and down a court or field, or taking a hit during a football game over and over again can lead to injury eventually," Johnson said.

Even swinging a golf club could mean injuries over time.

Retired pro golfer Jack Nicklaus surprised many when he revealed he underwent experimental stem cell therapy in April 2018 after living with debilitating back pain for decades. As a result of his treatment, Nicklaus reported the ability to walk, stand and play golf again.

"Stem cells help to reduce pain and inflammation associated with traumatic injuries, like a hit on a football field, or those injuries caused from years of use," Johnson said.

These injuries do not just affect professional athletes; the average person can also experience musculoskeletal injuries either through sports or just day-to-day activity.

"Joints can wear out over time from regular use, such as from swinging a hammer or using a paintbrush or typing on a keyboard," Johnson said.

While conventional treatments for these musculoskeletal injuries include steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and surgery, stem cell therapy is much less invasive.

"If the patient is using their own stem cells, the cells are collected through a quick process of harvesting via a specialized form of liposuction. Most patients do not even require a bandage after their procedure," Johnson said.

Using one's stem cells has other benefits, too.

"There is no chance of rejection when you use your cells versus using cells taken from other donors," Johnson said.

While considered an alternative therapy, stem cell treatments are becoming more mainstream.

"Every day there are new applications for stem cell treatments being discovered for a wide range of health conditions," Johnson said.


Bleacher Report. Ryan Tannehill Has Stem Cells in Cayman Islands to Improve His 'Quality of Life'. 11 December 2018.