Sidney Rice Injury: Seahawks receiver heads to Switzerland for treatment

Kevin Casey

What do both Hemingway's Frederic Henry, and Sidney Rice's knee have in common? They both went to Switzerland to feel better. (Frederic's wife died, though).

Quick and Dirty: Pete Carroll has mentioned that Sidney Rice took a backpacking trip to the pristine hospitals of ever-peaceful Switzerland for a non-surgical procedure on his million dollar knee. Why would he do that?

Dr. Jene Bramel mentioned it first, and I think he is 100% correct. Sidney Rice is most likely getting stem cells injected into his knee. Stem Cell Therapy is a relatively new clinical procedure that involves injecting stem cells directly into a patient's knee, in order to repair/restore cartilage.

We have known for quite some time that Rice suffers from "bad" knees, and most likely plays in a great deal of pain. The fact that he is getting stem cell injections means that his knee is missing portions of cartilage, and is bone-on-bone. This surgery would serve to quickly begin the process of cartilage restoration, it is a long term treatment that requires a great deal of time. According to Carroll, this is something that Sidney has been wanting to do for awhile, and now is the best time for it.

Overview of the Procedure

Stem Cells injection is something I am familiar with, but only through reading and research. I have never been a part of this procedure, as it is highly specialized. I will convey what I know.

Traditionally, mesenchymal cells were either taken from a cadaver, or six weeks was needed to grow the cells from a biopsy of the patient's cartilage. Now, cells are extracted and isolated from the patient's pelvis (where all the best cells come from *wink*). These cells are then used in one of two ways:

1. They are injected directly into the knee of the patient.

2. A "paste" is utilized to surgically apply the cells, and a graft of porcine organ flesh is used to contain them.

A high concentration of mesenchymal cells is used, as studies have shown a positive correlation between concentration and efficacy. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is also used. A common analogy: if mesenchymal cells are seeds, than PRP is fertilizer.

These treatments have been used in Europe for many years, and are only now being seen in the USA. The therapeutic outcome should be a lessening of pain, improved functionality, and increased amounts of cartilage. Studies analyzing/following clinical and therapeutic outcomes of these procedures find significant improvements in cartilage amount.

This procedure is described above as "non-surgical", so I assume only needles are being involved. Traditionally, the patient undergoes arthroscopic debridement first, which has a associated recovery time of multiple weeks. I assume that this is not happening in Sidney's Case. Recovery time for a simple injection is minimal (approximately a week), and manifests as soreness in the treated area.

I will update as new information becomes available, or if I discover something interesting.

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