What Is This Knee Treatment Kobe Bryant Goes All the Way to Germany For?

News that Kobe Bryant was headed to Germany for treatment on his knee broke late this week.

The treatment was planned and expected by the Los Angeles Lakers medical staff and is a follow-up to previous treatments that Bryant has had on his knees. Bryant suffers from degeneration inside the knee and has had success with treatments in the past.

There are so many questions about this treatment that I wanted to address as many as I can in hopes of easing the confusion.


What is this knee treatment?

Reported in many places as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, the treatment is actually known as Regenokine. It is similar to PRP, which I explain in this article, but has some notable differences.

The therapy was created by Dr. Peter Wehling, a German orthopedist. Bryant has gone to Dr. Wehling at least three times, once per offseason, though he skipped it once.

With Regenokine, the blood is removed from a patient up to three weeks beforehand, mixed with other substances and then re-injected. It is believed that many US patients have their blood drawn, frozen and shipped to Germany ahead of their treatment by an American affiliate, Dr. Christian Renna.

If you wish to learn more about this procedure, the video to the right from ABC's Nightline gives more details. 


Why did he have to go to Germany?

Because of those differences, it is not yet approved for use in the United States. The FDA has not yet approved all elements of the program, specifically the amount of time that the blood is stored before being reinjected. The FDA also requires that the blood be "minimally manipulated" before being reintroduced. The Regenokine procedure does too much to be considered minimal.

More simply, it's where Dr. Wehling is from and practices. There's nothing inherently special about the location. 


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