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Did Kobe Bryant give Yankees' Alex Rodriguez sound medical advice?

December 29, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez reportedly flew to Germany earlier this month for platelet-rich plasma treatments on his knee and shoulder.
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez reportedly flew to Germany… (Phil Carter / US PRESSWIRE )

Word is that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez flew to Germany earlier this month for a special treatment on his right knee and left shoulder -- on a recommendation from the Lakers' very own Kobe Bryant.

Rodriguez received what's called platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRPs. Doctors will take a small amount of a patient's blood, centrifuge it to yield a concentration of platelets and inject it back into injured tissue. The idea is to supplement the growth factors and plasma cells in a person's blood with a concentrated dose in order to speed up healing of, say, a sore knee or a scarred Achilles' tendon.

Tiger Woods has done it, Kobe has done it -- a host of other athletes have put their hopes in the therapy. But thus far, studies on whether PRP actually works aren't wowing researchers. Take a study published in January 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., which found that injecting patients' Achilles' tendons with platelet-rich plasma had about the same effect as injecting them with a saline solution.

According to a fascinating Q&A by the Scientific American with Dennis A. Cardone, a doctor of osteopathic medicine at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, many of the studies done thus far have not been rigorous, controlled, blinded studies -- and their findings can be explained away by the placebo effect or other factors.

As for whether it works in Rodriguez's case, we'll see if he passes Kobe's recommendation along.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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