UPDATE: To learn more about PRP, click on the podcast module on the right. Dr. Robert Klapper, Director of the Joint Replacement Program and orthopaedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai hospital in L.A. Very informative.
Last month in Germany, Kobe Bryant underwent a procedure designed to promote healing in his surgically repaired right knee, the same one he had operated on last summer.
Called platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), it uses a patient's own blood, drawn then spun through a centrifuge to isolate platelets and other growth factors before being injected back into the injured area. Bryant joins an increasingly long list of athletes who have given PRP a whirl, including Tiger Woods, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, and Cliff Lee. Plus a bunch of soccer players, something Kobe surely appreciates.
Whether it works or not, to what level, and under what circumstances is a matter of debate, but the procedure is pretty simple, minimally invasive, and requires little healing time. At the very least it appears to fall squarely in the no harm, no foul category, and certainly could prove quite beneficial. Call it a proactive move from Kobe to once again try and get ahead of the pain and structural issues in his troublesome joint.
Perhaps he had the procedure in mind at his exit interview, when speaking about how the extended summer afforded the chance to get stronger. Or maybe he has a particular interest in the German health care system. Either way, hopefully it works for him, and Bryant can come back stronger next year. Between the team's early postseason exit and the lockout, Bryant has the time to get his body working as well as it can after over 1,300 regular season and playoff games. Call it a silver lining, but an important one for sure.
The Lakers, if they want to operate at their most efficient in what will be a very important 2011-12 season relative to questions about the team's future, don't just need him healthy for games but practices, too.