Robin Van Persie flew today to Belgrade to meet with Marijana Kovacevic, a Serbian housewife who uses fluid from horse placenta to massage injured tissues enabling it to heal faster. At least that is what many footballers using her treatment claim.
RVP did not seem to know much about her or the therapy:
"She is vague about her methods but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta," he said. "I am going to try. It cannot hurt and, if it helps, it helps."
This summer RVP got his molars removed because they were supposed to the source of his musculoskeletal injuries. This may have been a real stretch but in actuality, there is strong evidence of a connection.
Placenta therapy definitely takes it to an altogether different level. There are however, scientific studies that show that application of placenta creams and gels speed up the healing of previously non-healing wounds. PGIF (Placenta Growth Factor) promotes wound healing in diabetic patients, wounds which are notoriously slow to heal. It does so by promoting the growth of new blood vessels and repair.
The benefits of this type of therapy seem plausible in patients with pathological or surgical wounds, basically with compromised health but RVP unlike them has no underlying condition. He is healthy.
These studies also suggest acceleration in skin repair. Skin is more superficial than ligaments. So it is questionable whether there is improved healing in deeper muscle and ligamentous fascia with just massaging the skin with the placental fluid. There has to be a way of transporting it to the ruptured ligament site possibly by iontophoresis.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is far more commonly used to healing wounds and promoting union of fractures. Wayne Rooney used it to heal his metatarsal fracture before the 2006 World Cup. The jury is out on the effectiveness of this approach, although most big rehabilitation centers have a HBT unit.
Bottomline: Van Persie needs enough rest and immobilization for the ankle ligament to repair completely. He will require lots of physical therapy after the pain and swelling subsides. An incompletely healed ankle sprain invariably leads to chronic ankle instability. For a footballer, that could mean a premature end to his career.