It’s become an annual fall tradition, just like the University of Michigan losing a big, nationally televised football game. Kobe Bryant has returned to Germany to visit Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt and undergo his Orthokine treatment for his knee. It’s become such a thing that Kobe’s own Web site chronicled the event, adding that he would not be in Munich long enough to enjoy Octoberfest or do much else. Kobe has degenerative knee issues, which isn’t really shocking after a lifetime of running up and down a hardwood floor. He has worked as hard as anyone with diet, exercise and everything else he can legally do to stave off Father Time (and keep those two years, $48 million in checks rolling in). Orthokine is part of that. It is similar to the procedure used the United States called Regenokine, (platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP) but it is a little different (and Regenokine is still awaiting FDA approval). The treatment takes the patient’s blood — in this case Kobe’s — out of his arm, warms it, spins it to separate the platelets, then those healing platelets are re-injected in the knee. The blood is actually drawn here in the USA then shipped frozen overseas as the process for the blood takes several weeks. If you want more details, injury expert Will Carroll did a good summary of it over at Bleacher Report. It should be added (because it always seems to come up in comments) that is very different from the blood doping that was/is controversial in cycling. Orthokine also not illegal, nor does the treatment involve steroids, human growth hormones or other banned substances. No athlete who has had this done tested positive for a banned substance because of it, not here or not internationally with other sports. Heck, Pope John Paul II had it done and I’m fairly sure he was not doping. Willie Nelson had it done too and although I’m sure he is doping, just in a different way. Why does Kobe go to Germany for this then, you ask? Because the treatment is not fully approved by the FDA yet stateside. Plus it was invented by these German doctors, why not go to the source if you can? I think Kobe can afford it.