ThriveMD in Vail Colorado: Pain management for golfers | VailDaily.com

ThriveMD in Vail Colorado: Pain management for golfers

Jessica Smith

Dr. Scott Brandt with ThriveMD in Vail offers regenerative medicine through
stem cells to repair injuries and prevent pain.

Harvey Latson, a resident of Edwards, is ex-military, a former physical education teacher and an avid golfer. Despite being in good physical shape, last year he found himself dealing with pain from damage to his right knee and a partially torn Achilles tendon.

Since the tendon wasn't fully torn, Latson, 67, wanted to explore options outside of surgery. He found doctor Scott Brandt of ThriveMD in Vail,
who uses stem cell therapy as regenerative medicine.

Regenerative healing

Brandt has lived in Vail for 12 years. Prior to opening ThriveMD in 2012, he spent 20 years doing image-guided interventional pain procedures. He attended medical school at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and went on to specialize in anesthesiology, with further specialization in interventional pain management. He sees stem cell therapy as the future of his field.

"Stem cells are in every tissue. It's how we heal any damage that's done," he said. "We just unfortunately can't get good access for those cells in high volumes to get through damaged areas like tendons, joints or discs."

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Tendons, joints and discs are the areas that most of Brandt's patients see him about. The reason for that, he said, is because those areas are nonvascular, which means they don't get a lot of natural blood flow, and therefore healing takes longer. The basic idea behind this regenerative therapy is using the patient's own stem cells to heal the damage.

"They're your own cells, so there's no chance of rejection," Brandt said.

Brandt's process requires three basic ingredients — cells from fat tissue, cells from bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma. The cells act as the healing elements, while the platelets are the "fertilizer," Brandt said. All three make up what he calls a "perfect soup" which is then injected into the damaged area via x-ray guidance, all in an outpatient procedure that takes only a few hours.

Every patient is assessed beforehand to make sure that the stem cell therapy is what they need, rather than general pain-relieving procedures or surgery.

"You should exhaust the simple things," Brandt said, before resorting to stem cell therapy or surgery. "If something's truly broken, this isn't the answer. If there's a tendon or a ligament that's 100 percent torn, this isn't the answer. Surgery definitely
has a place."

Back in the golf game

Latson was pleased with his results, particularly the recovery time.

"Within to months, I was back on the ski slopes, feeling good, and as soon as the courses and the driving ranges opened in April, I started hitting the golf ball again and I felt pretty good," he said. "I could get a full rotation on my golf swing and the knees weren't hurting."

Stem cell therapy for athletes isn't anything new, Brandt pointed out. Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning have both been known to take advantage of such treatment.

"But the beauty of it is it's equally as available to the weekend warrior," Brandt said. "We see it in every sport, but golfers especially, when they get an elbow or a shoulder, or low back issue, it can mean putting them out of the thing that they love to do the most."

Brandt, who is also a golfer, is looking forward to this type of regenerative healing becoming more mainstream and widely known.

"The biggest thing is letting people know that this option is out there, because so much of the public at this point isn't aware," he said, "and they're in that place where they've been hurting for a long time but they don't want a knee replacement and they don't want a major surgery and they don't know there are these minimal procedures available."