|Colon Baseballâ€™s New Science Experiment||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on May 30, 2011
Baseball is often at the forefront of medicine.Â In 1974, a pitcher whose career would have been over in a previous decade had an elbow ligament replaced and went on to pitch for another 15 years, amassing 288 wins.Â Today that surgery is colloquially known as Tommy John surgery.
And John was hardly the only one on the cutting edge of experimental medicine. Â Players have undergone eye procedures, injections, platelet rich plasma infusions and more in the name of getting back to where they were, or just in keeping themselves in the game for a few more years.
The procedure part of this equation may be fairly simple.Â No knife, no surgery, just an injection of cells put in the bursa of the shoulder.Â Stem cells, the subject of much debate are really very simple things -- undifferentiated cells that have yet to decide what exactly they should become.Â Should they form a hand or a liver, a brain or a toenail and so on?
Because they haven't yet chosen a form, or had one dictated to them biologically because of their age, researchers have thought they hold a huge medical potential for curing disease, fighting aging, reversing nerve damage, and regenerating damaged tissue, organs or even limbs.
Yet stem cell therapy is such a unknown unproven therapy that most medical professionals think of it more as science fiction -- with the truth ready to come out several years down the road.Â Because of that, there is doubt, or even suspicion, that what the treatment that Colon received may not actually be what has been presented to the authorities in baseball and to the media as both HGH and steroids are regularly used medically in the Dominican Republi
Baseball has launched an investigation but the odds are that they won't ferret out more information than that which has already been fed to the media.Â Thus Colon will continue to pitch, and other athletes will line up for what may be a dubious treatment.
The research with stem cells is still in its infancy, so to speak, and while it has been used for certain patients for several years, it's the first time it's been done, if it's been done, for someone as high profile as a pitcher for the New York Yankees.Â If Colon's resurgence lasts it will be considered a spectacular success, but if he flames out and this fails to last, it might be considered nothing much more than a last hurrah for an aging pitcher who was able to reach back for a little more one last time.
And if he fails dragging the Yankees down again we'll be able to make more colonic jokes.