Kobe Bryant had a unusual procedure done to try to strengthen his ailing right knee. Bryant, who turns 33 this month, has been hampered by arthritis in his right knee in recent months. He underwent three other knee procedures since 2003, including surgery last July.
So what’s the unusual surgery called? It’s called “P.R.P.” or Platelet-Rich-Plasma therapy.
What’s unusual about it? Well, it actually hasn’t been proved to work yet…..in humans, but only in lab rats according to an issue of The British Journal of Sports Medicine.
This procedure is popularized to repair injury in a joint and grow new tissue. It’s fairly simple and takes about an hour, but’s it also painful.
A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient’s body(other than injury location) and spun in a centrifuge for about 20 minutes to isolate platelets. With guidance from ultrasound, the platelets are then injected into the injured area to try to stimulate tissue repair.
The therapy approach has been used by great names in sports i.e. Tiger Woods (knee), Chris Ganty(hamstring), but the consensus in the medical field is that more long-term research needs to be done. No results have been found to be conclusive that P.R.P. therapy works in cases WITHOUT a hormone added i.e. HGH (Performance Enhancement Drugs or PED) in humans. “We believe more work on the basic science needs to be undertaken,” a consensus statement about P.R.P. issued late last year by the International Olympic Committee said, adding that people should “proceed with caution in the use of P.R.P. in athletic sporting injuries.” This procedure is rarely covered by insurance at this time and can cost up to $1000 dollars a shot. It’s reccommended as a last resort before surgery.
There are testimonials from professional athletes suggesting that the shots work in humans. Kobe commented, “it’s the best it’s been in a long time”, referring to his knee after the surgery, but given Kobe hasn’t had an extended break from basketball since 09-10′ NBA Finals and winning back-to-back championships, any amount of extended rest would allow for improvement and healing.