by Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Injury Expert
It is a brand new decade and while the calendar is changing some things, like injured players, remain the same.
Kings guard Kevin Martin remains shelved with a fractured left wrist. Martin initially suffered a non-displaced, hairline fracture to his navicular (or scaphoid) bone in a November match up against the Grizzlies. The navicular is one of eight bones known as the carpal bones. The small peanut-shaped navicular often takes longer to heal due to a poor blood supply. X-rays and a recent CT scan revealed the bone is successfully healing following surgery and Martin is no longer wearing a splint and has aggressively begun rehabilitation. His initial focus has been range of motion and he was recently cleared for non-contact basketball activities. The Kings have not placed a definitive timetable for Martin's return, but plan on reexamining the injury on January 12. Fantasy owners should continue to remain patient as it appears Martin's return may finally be on the horizon.
Martin's absence has proven to be very beneficial for Sacramento rookie Tyreke Evans. The fourth overall pick has averaged 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on the year and has emerged as the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors. Unfortunately he too has been dealing with injury as a sprained ankle has forced him from the past two games. Evans originally sprained the ankle in October but aggravated the injury in a recent game against the Lakers. A reoccurrence of a sprained ankle is not surprising as the sprained ligaments have not yet fully healed. When sprained, a ligament never completely returns to its original state. The forces that cause a ligament to fail often stretch the tissue beyond its yield point, increasing the laxity of the ligament resulting in an unstable ankle joint. To better understand this idea, consider a rubber band. When it is first removed from the package, it is tight, full of spring, and easily binds paper together. However following multiple uses, the rubber band will eventually become overstretched and never returns to its original size and shape. Ultimately the rubber band is rendered useless when it breaks or is stretched too far. Ligaments of the body are comparable. When an ankle is sprained, athletic trainers will utilize various treatments during rehabilitation to improve the strength and physical integrity of the sprained ligament but the tissue remains forever altered. Therefore a once sprained ankle is more susceptible to being aggravated and re-sprained. Evans will attempt to return on January 1 when the Kings travel instate to take on the Lakers.
Lakers forward Ron Artest could also return the same night as Evans after missing Los Angeles' last three games with a concussion he sustained after falling down a flight of stairs at his home on Christmas night. While concussions are generally a hot topic for the NFL, they remain a serious and significant injury for NBA athletes as well. A concussion occurs when trauma to the head results in a disruption of normal brain function. Normal physical and cognitive functions like memory, balance, vision, and hearing can be temporarily altered. Symptoms can continue for an extended period of time depending on the severity of the concussion. Often symptoms will disappear in daily activity but will return with exercise and exertional activity. Artest suffered memory loss and required surgical staples to close a gash on his head. He continues to suffer from dizziness following activity and the Lakers' athletic training staff will insure Artest is completely symptom free before allowing him to return to action. Lamar Odom has replaced Artest in the starting lineup and performed admirably averaging 11.0 points and 13.0 rebounds.
Artest's teammate Andrew Bynum is no stranger to injury and it does not appear 2010 will be any different. After suffering significant knee injuries in the past two seasons, Bynum's right knee is once again bothering him. Bynum recently began complaining of "tightness" in his knee at the area where the quadriceps tendon meets the patella, or kneecap. The patella is classified as a sesamoid bone meaning it actually floats within the tendon and is often to the site of a condition known as patellar tendinitis commonly referred to as Jumper's Knee. Like the name suggests, the injury is common in basketball players as a result of constant and excessive force placed on the quadriceps tendon that occurs with jumping. The tendon becomes inflamed and causes pain and tenderness before, after, or during activity. Based on Bynum's medical history, the Lakers will monitor the situation carefully and may elect to rest their young center if the pain increases.
The Trail Blazers continue to make their weekly appearance on the injury list as forward LeMarcus Aldridge joins the ever growing list of inactives for Portland. Aldridge sprained his left ankle in a December 30 game against the Clippers. One of the difficulties that athletic trainers often deal with when treating an ankle injury is associated with the pain and stiffness that occurs while weight bearing. When a player cannot put weight on the foot, activities designed to strengthen the sprained ligaments become difficult. Fortunately aquatic therapy is an easy way to combat this issue. When activity is performed in water, the buoyancy provided by water lightens the load placed on the ankle joint. Most NBA training rooms now have pools that are equipped with underwater treadmills that allow a player to remain conditioned while progressing their rehab accordingly. Aldridge has spent the last few days participating in aquatic therapy but the Blazers expect to be without the forward for the next several games. Rookie forward Dante Cunninghame will likely start alongside veteran Juwan Howard in the depleted Portland front court.