Kobe Bryant has always had some troubles with his right knee, but he recently decided to go a different route to attempt to fix the issues with it. Bryant flew to Germany a little over a month ago, to undergo a treatment which is a bit different than platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP). These procedures are different than most knee surgeries, as they are typically either a quick fix to the knee problems, or a gamble on a treatment that is unknown in whether or not it works. While Bryant has had these knee troubles for the past few years, most feel that it hasn’t slowed his game. He’s a top notch player in the NBA still and is considered by some to be the best player in the entire NBA at this point. Bryant turns 33 next month and has had three other knee procedures since 2003.
The PRP procedure consists of a small amount of blood being drawn from the patient’s arm and spun in a centrifuge to isolate platelets. At that point, the platelets are injected into the knee to try to stimulate tissue repair, with the guidance of an ultrasound. PRP procedures are not 100% guaranteed to help at this point, but it apparently has a strong enough possibility that Bryant is willing to give it a shot. Quite a few doctors have said that the procedure may take another two to four years to understand if it will really work. The PRP procedure isn’t an incredibly complicated deal, as in reality it’s really just taking a person’s own blood out of a vein, then putting the blood into the injured area that the person is looking to strengthen. It has been shown to speed tissue growth and accelerate the healing process of the area as well.
There have been quite a few other big names in professional sports who have undergone the treatments for their knees, starting with Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Cliffe Lee, Chris Canty, and Hines Ward. Two other NBA players underwent the treatment last season as well; Acie Law from Golden State did it on his wrist, and Brandon Roy from the Trailblazers did the procedure on his hamstring. One thing that was an issue before recently, was that PRP may lead to unfair athletic enhancement, but the World and US Anti Doping Agency’s both decided that this was not the case.
Some studies feel that this new procedure doesn’t work, and even say that other procedures work better. Just like most things there are believers and doubters, and the people who believe in it, will swear by it. Bryant has already had other surgeries and treatments, and is hoping that this may be the one to give him that extra boost that he knows he still has. The treatment has a short recovery time, and does not restrict movement of the knee, so Bryant feels that there are very few negatives to attempting this treatment.
The Lakers finished last season at 57-25, and were the 2nd seed coming out of the Western Conference, where they lost in a 2nd round match-up against the eventual NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. Kobe Bryant did see his minutes decline a bit last season, but was still the leader of the Lakers regardless of what anyone doubters say. He has made it quite clear that his reasoning behind getting his knee fixed up is to prove to the doubters out there that he has not lost a step. It will be interesting to see how the PRP procedure affects his game in the 2011-2012 season, as well as to see if it gives him the extra boost that he knows he still has.
So Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, now Kobe Bryant. All received PRP Treatment. Good signs that his form of medical treatment is here to stay!