Another week has gone by; and while some players are slowly making a comeback, there are others who are going in the wrong direction. While it is taking longer for some players to get back on the ice, this is actually a positive because it signifies that their teams are being more cautious with their recovery and rehabilitation.
David Krejci of the Bruins is a perfect example of this. The worst thing he could do is come back too early and suffer another head injury – another concussion could significantly shorten his career. Krejci is skating again and is increasing the intensity of his workouts. His next step will be to undergo a neuro-psych test that will examine his mental status. Once Krejci passes this test, he should be given the green light to start heavy workouts and absorb some contact during practices as long as the symptoms do not return.
Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton is on track to make his expected return from back surgery. Leighton was expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks after undergoing the surgery on October 11, and since is hoping to be cleared to practice sometime this week, he could be back around the shorter end of that estimate. Leighton’s recovery must be going well, but he will still need to demonstrate a lot more in terms of back stability before he is cleared for contact.
Tampa Bay’s Simon Gagne is feeling better, but there is no clear reason for his symptoms. Doctors seem to be closer to a diagnosis after testing him for a while, but an exact determination has not been made. Gagne has been cleared to increase the intensity of his workouts, but apparently he is still bothered by quick head motions that throw off his balance. Gagne has been given a battery of tests to rule out a concussion, but it’s possible that he suffered an injury to a vertebral artery. These arteries run from the head down the spine and can be damaged during neck injuries. I have seen patients deal with balance-related issues due to impairments in a vertebral artery. Hopefully this is not something that keeps him out much longer or affects him down the road.
Boston’s Johnny Boychuk is recovering from a left forearm fracture. Recovery times from bone fractures are generally easier to predict because there is no muscle tissue damage. Thus, since Boychuk was hurt about three weeks ago, his arm should be healed enough to test whether or not the vibrations when shooting the puck have any adverse affects. If everything goes well, Boychuk should be back in the next week or so.
Tampa Bay’s Vincent LeCavalier had a plate and screw placed in his broken right hand Monday. This should speed up healing since the bones are immobilized, but he is still expected to miss about 4-to-5 weeks.
Colorado’s TJ Galiardi will have his broken wrist surgically repaired in the near future. Depending on the type of surgery, he will likely be out 6-to-8 weeks. In most cases, after about 4-to-6 weeks, the bone is healed and the player is given clearance to start rehabbing so he can get back on the ice in roughly 2-to-3 weeks.
Kristian Huselius of Columbus has been placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. These injuries usually require a lot of rest at the beginning because any excessive stress on the ankle will increase its instability. Sometimes a cast or walking boot is required to increase the compression and keep the tibia and fibula in close proximity. High ankle sprains can take anywhere from 6-to-8 weeks to several months to heal. I suspect he will be out a good two months.
St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie sustained a broken ankle last week and will be out at least three months. Oshie will not even be re-evaluated until after the three months are up, so he is looking at a significant recovery time. Oshie’s injury leaves the Bruins without one of their top passing forwards for a long time.
New Jersey’s Matt Taormina is also dealing with an ankle injury. Initial x-rays were negative, but he will still undergo an MRI. Taormina is having difficulty putting weight on his ankle, which is not abnormal even if it is only sprained. If after a week or so he is still having problems placing weight on the ankle the injury could become a more serious concern, but the MRI should provide more details as well. There is something about the injury that makes me suspect Taormina has a high ankle sprain, but this is more of a gut feeling based on the report of his twisted ankle. A twisting motion may cause a forced separation of the ankle muscles, which results in the high sprain. Hopefully Taormina is just dealing with the old sprained ankle.
A couple of players progressing well are Detroit’s Kris Draper and Florida’s Jason Garrison. Garrison first suffered a strained groin a month ago, but after returning a couple weeks ago, he aggravated the injury and was forced to miss several more games. However, he appears to be recovered again and is expected to play Wednesday. Draper underwent sports hernia surgery late last month and was just able to resume practicing last week; however, I assume he has not been cleared for contact as of yet. Draper was expected to miss about 4-to-6 weeks, so it looks like his return will be closer to the back end of that estimate.
To finish, let’s talk about Montreal’s Andrei Markov, who re-injured his surgically repaired right knee. Markov will miss at least four more months with the injury, but he is realistically looking at a much longer recovery time since he has already injured the knee once. There is an outside shot Markov could return for the playoffs, but the chances are not very good. Markov’s best bet would be to target a return to the ice next season. Hopefully Markov is able to fully recover from his injuries and get back to entertaining us with his hockey talent.