Dr. Anthony Galea is founder and medical director of The Institute of Sports Medicine Health & Wellness Centre. Dr. Galea not only lectures internationally, but maintained his position with Toronto Argonauts as the team physician for several years. Despite controversy surrounding him, Dr. Galea practices with integrity and continues to innovate in the treatment of injuries for professional athletes.
We have all heard of controversy surrounding some of the world’s most famous athletes and performance enhancing substances. “Doping” as it is quite often referred to by the media and athletes alike, is against the rules in all sports and athletes are subject to testing to insure they are not using performance enhancing substances. However, the mental and physical strain that athletes are under, if left untreated, can spiral out of control and lead to many things (substance abuse, addiction, mental illness, etc.). Being aware of the causes of “doping” and other self destructive behaviours exhibited by athletes is the root to understanding the “doping” itself.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) has been used along with anabolic steroids in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support that HGH does in fact boost performance. HGH has been approved to treat specific disorders in children and adults. HGH has also been prescribed with an off-label use as an anti-aging serum. Many companies advertise these products similar to beauty conglomerates advertising their anti-aging products, both having a lack of sufficient evidence supporting the claims that they will “turn back your biological clock”. HGH carries some heavy side effects and caution should be used when purchasing/receiving/using HGH and products containing HGH.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections have come to the attention of media and physicians alike as a treatment for sports-related injuries. PRP injections are more commonly used as a surgical tool for plastic surgery and oral surgery. PRP injections were once on the list of prohibited treatments upheld by World Anti-Doping Agency. Due to inconclusive findings as to their use for performance enhancement, PRP injections have since been removed from this list.
So what are the ramifications when choosing to use HGH and/or PRP injections in sports medicine? While PRP injections are not against the rules, HGH is.HGH is now being tested for in some sports with other organizations following suit. Being caught using HGH that is not otherwise prescribed for a disorder would gain the player consequences similar to those of the consequences by players doping with other substances.
Assisting players in seeking the help that they need is an important part of any team doctor’s job. Doing so may help in preventing “doping” and other self destructive patterns in players.