Medical Tourism|19/09/2011

Kobe Bryant a medical tourist?

Well, well well. Uber-athlete and Los Angeles Lakers star forward Kobe Bryant recently up and left tinsel town (and the US medical system) and traveled to Germany for medical treatment for his knee.

Kobe Bryant went to Germany for platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy -- a hot new therapy that extracts platelets from blood to repair damaged muscles, tendons and joints -- a common problem among athletes. So…that makes Kobe a medical tourist.  Right?

If you followed the story, Kobe went to Germany for platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy — a hot new therapy that extracts platelets from blood to repair damaged muscles, tendons and joints — a common problem among athletes. The idea is that high concentration of platelets injected directly into the injured area will help stimulate tissue repair, particularly in areas where blood supply is low, like knees. shoulder and elbows.

Dr. Jeffrey Chew, Orthopedic Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, told me that he is using PRP mainly for tendonitis and patients with tennis elbows, pain around the patella tendon and around the shoulder.  He said that PRP therapy does not have the side effects of either steroid injections or anti-inflammatory drugs.

But why did Kobe travel to Germany?

Here is a guy who has more money than Midas, and can go anywhere he wants…and he chooses to go to Germany. And didn’t Tiger go to Canada for the same treatment a while back?

Is it because the Germans have been using PRP longer and with better success rates than in the US? Did Kobe want to get treated abroad to avoid the public glare? Did Kobe want to get treatment and have a holiday too?

Kobe has been tightlipped on the reasons he selected Germany over the US, but whatever his reasons it makes you rethink the whole medical tourism paradigm when big time athletes, not just the uninsured, start to head for the door.


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