According to a source familiar with Bryant's treatment, his blood was treated to isolate growth factors that attack inflammation, and then cultured with chemicals to increase their potency before being injected into his arthritic right knee.
As Assael says, the premise is pretty similar to PRP, in which platelets are isolated from a patient's own blood plasma, then injected at a highly concentrated level back into the affected area. But the chemical-culturing really takes the procedure - by Dr. Peter Wehling, who worked with Pope John Paul II, among others - to the next level. Of course, there's a big question about all this: will it work? ESPN's Brian Kamenetzky noted that PRP therapy isn't known for sure to be effective. Additionally, other advanced treatment methods by which the body is essentially used to heal itself - like the stem-cell therapy undergone by Bartolo Colon and Peyton Manning - has been hit-or-miss.
But it's worth a try, if you've got the resources Kobe has - and, apparently, it's not against any rules. SB Nation's Tom Ziller brings up the fair point that the line between what is blood doping and what isn't is increasingly hard to figure out, but the key difference seems to be that blood doping is used to boost red blood cell count and oxygen delivery to directly give an athlete a boost in competition. While blood doping generally applies to athletes already at full strength, Kobe's therapy is being used to treat an ailment. It's a gray area, but to us, that's an important difference - and a pretty cool idea. Like we said before, if the treatment method works, we don't see an issue with using it. The future of sports medicine might be upon us: no need to stifle it.
Getty photo (by Ronald Martinez)
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