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NBA Injury Analysis: NBA Injury Updates

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

An injury to point guard Brandon Jennings has Milwaukee fans feeling a little less than merry this holiday season. Jennings recently underwent surgery to repair a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot sustained in a recent game against the Spurs. Fractures to this bone are not uncommon in basketball but unfortunately can be very difficult to handle. The fifth metatarsal is located on the lateral or outside aspect of the foot and connects the foot to the little toe. It serves as an attachment site for several muscles and while it is not considered a major weight-bearing bone, it plays an important role in the stability of the foot. Unfortunately the area is poorly vascularized, meaning the blood supply to the area is low. Without proper amounts of blood, the fracture can be extremely slow to heal. The surgery performed on the Jennings’ foot likely included the insertion of a pin designed to stabilize the bone and create a better environment for healing. This will allow for a complete union to form at the location of the break.

While the Bucks are optimistic that Jennings will be ready to return in four-to-six weeks it is possible he could be out longer. Fractures to the fifth metatarsal are often very slow to heal. For example, Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois suffered the same injury over the summer while with the French National team. Beaubois’ break also required surgery to repair and was performed by team physicians in early August. The Mavs had anticipated he would available by mid-November but the speedy guard has yet to suit up for Dallas after suffering a minor setback. He has not received clearance from doctors to run or jump but he has begun running on an underwater treadmill designed to reduce the amount of weight placed through the foot. So despite an early prediction that Beaubois would be ready in six-to-eight weeks, he is now four months removed from surgery and has still not begun basketball-related activities. There is no way to predict whether or not Jennings’ recovery will be just a drawn out but don’t be surprised if he misses more time than is expected. In the meantime, Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins will see more minutes for Milwaukee. Boykins suggested he could be a fantasy stopgap with a 22-point effort against the Lakers on Tuesday.

Concussions have been a focal point in the NFL this season but the injury is also a cause for concern in basketball. Several players including Milwaukee teammates Carlos Delfino and Corey Maggette and Chicago’s Taj Gibson have missed time after suffering a concussion. Gibson was a spectator on Tuesday after banging his head on the court in a game against the Clippers. Delfino has missed 20 games for the Bucks after being injured in early November and Maggette did not travel with the team on their recent three-game road-trip.

A concussion occurs when trauma to the head or neck results in a disruption of brain function. Normal physical and cognitive functions like memory, balance, vision, and hearing can be temporarily altered following a concussion. Each person reacts differently and length of the symptoms varies with each individual. In mild concussions the symptoms dissipate within days but in some more serious cases the symptoms can last weeks and even months. Often symptoms will disappear in daily activity but will return with exercise and exertional activity, as is the case with Delfino.

In the NFL each team utilizes a standardized testing protocol known as ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). The ImPACT test is carried out on a computer and analyzes the individual’s current status by testing a multitude of neurological functions including attention span, reaction time, and problem solving. The results are compared to baseline information gathered at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately only a handful of teams in the NBA have begun using ImPACT testing and the NBA does not have a specific set of guidelines like the NHL or NFL. Without a standard protocol it becomes more difficult to guess when a player will be able to return to play.

Gibson made a brief appearance on Wednesday while Milwaukee is unsure when they will get their two athletes back in action. Delfino is still experiencing exertional-related symptoms and his activities have been limited to riding a stationary bike. He also plans on wearing protective headgear when he is able to return to action. Maggette’s symptoms do not appear as serious but he will likely miss a game or two more.

Washington rookie and number one overall pick John Wall isn’t any closer to returning despite the discovery of the true root of his knee problems. When Wall originally began to feel pain it was believed he was suffering from a case of patellar tendinitis. However upon further examination it was discovered he has a bone bruise under his right patella. The patella, or kneecap, is located within the patellar tendon and increases the lever arm of the quadriceps muscle while protecting the tendon from excessive friction. The patella moves upward as the knee is straightened and downward when bent. As a result the patella increases its area of contact with the femur when the knee is flexed (bent). A bone bruise to the patella can make this increased amount of contact painful and give an athlete problems when attempting to run and jump.

Now that the specifics of the injury have been determined, the Wizards medical staff can begin the proper course of treatment that includes rest and modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound. They will be extremely cautious with Wall going forward and it seems likely he be in street clothes for the immediate future.

The recently traded Vince Carter elected not to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his balky left knee and should join the Phoenix lineup over the weekend. Carter has experienced pain and swelling in the knee since November 22 but decided against a scope that would have sidelined him for at least a month. Instead he will depend on the highly respected Phoenix athletic training staff to get him going again. Led by head athletic trainer, Aaron Nelson, the Suns athletic training staff has been credited with revitalizing and extending the careers of several notable veterans including Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, and Steve Nash. Fantasy owners should hope the athletic training staff and shift to an up-tempo offense will rejuvenate Carter and improve his stagnant offensive production.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.