This article is part of our Injury Analysis series.
The veteran quarterback has struggled with a shoulder injury over the past few weeks, but it's a new ailment that prevented him from finishing the Saints' Week 10 win over the 49ers. Brees did not return to the game after halftime due to a rib injury sustained in the first half. Testing on the area has revealed fractures to multiple ribs and a collapsed right lung.
The rib cage is designed to protect the underlying organs of the body. It comprises 12 pairs of ribs, the sternum (breastbone), the thoracic vertebrae of the spine and segments of connective tissue known as costal cartilage. However, rib injuries can occur if enough stress is applied. Rib or cartilage fractures are often very painful but can heal nicely when given time. However, the injury becomes more complicated if any damage is accrued by the underlying organs. In Brees' case, he has suffered significant damage to his lungs, specifically a collapsed lung.
A collapsed lung, clinically known as a pneumothorax, occurs when the pleural cavity, the covering surrounding the lungs, is damaged. The pleural cavity is a double membrane filled with fluid. It assists in breathing while helping maintain the pressure of the lungs. If the cavity is punctured, the pressure becomes imbalanced and air is forced into the area, collapsing the associated lung. Sometimes blood can fill the area in an injury known as a hemothorax. A collapsed lung results in pain and difficulty breathing.
The rate of recovery for an individual