Kobe Bryant Receives Unconventional Therapy For Knee Injury
The Lakers star was given what some consider to be an experimental type of injection therapy last month in Germany, a move that both Byant and his fans hope to recover his weakening knee.
According to a report from the LA times four people where familiar with the situation, not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed Bryant underwent a procedure similar to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy injection, which is a natural and less-invasive alternative to surgical procedures.
PRP is a type of prolotherapy, or “regenerative-restorative injection therapy” which uses an individuals own blood to strengthen and heal a site of injury. A small amount of blood is taken from patient's arm and then spun around in a centrifuge to separate out platelet cells. These platelet cells are then re-injected into the injured area with the guidance of an ultrasound.
Does PRP Work?
Dr. Hector Lopez of Prolotherapy New Jersey says that PRP therapy does have very a very powerful potential to help regenerate new tissue. “Platelets are known to contain a myriad of growth factors, which have been shown to turn on and stimulate many cellular processes responsible for tissue repair and healing” he explained. “The concept is remarkably simple. In essence, we are trying to harness the human body's remarkable ability to heal itself, in an effort to accelerate healing of an injured tendon, ligament, or various orthopedic structures.”
The procedure itself takes less than an hour and patients are usually able to resume normal activities within two days. Physical therapy and gradual training are recommended in order to maximize he healing benefits of PRP.
PRP Under Scrutiny
Last year this rather conventional type of injection therapy underwent investigation by the the World Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to determine whether or not it was “performance-enhancing” or created an unfair advantage over other athletes. Both organizations found it safe as long as the injected platelets were not mixed with hormones or other substances. In fact, in 2011 the WADA lifted its requirement for athletes to declare whether or not they had received this therapy.
However, not all doctors are completely sold on the idea. "Right now, the data is immature," said Dr. Allan Mishra from Stanford University. "There is a lot of cool stuff going on, but I temper that by saying we have a lot more work to do before it is definitive."
What remains unknown is whether or not this worked for Bryant. He has already undergone three other knee procedures since 2003 to address his arthritic knee joint. At 33 years old, Kobe still has three years and $83.5 million dollars left on his Lakers contract. However, due to his injuries he has sat out most of this past season.
Other athletes who have received PRP include Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, and Hines Ward.
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U.S. Anti-Doping Agency
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Dr. Hector Lopez from Prolotherapy New Jersey