ESPN 710: Dr Klapper Discusses Dwight Howard’s back
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Just listened to Dr. Robert Klapper, chief of orthopedic surgery at Cedar Sinai and ESPN 710’s resident expert.
1. From an orthopedic surgery standpoint he would much rather have Dwight’s back than Andrew’s knees.
2. The knees have a much more “chronic injury” issue than Dwight’s back which is an “acute injury” that can be repaired with very little sequelae.
3. After surgery, you can’t play basketball and engage in any heavy physical activity for 4 months.
Because the injury is a disc herniation: a small amount of the nucleus pulposus or the “shock absorber” of the disc got squeezed out. It is a VERY SMALL amount. You get rid of the “squirted out” material with a 1 inch incision under a microscope.
There is a 5-10 percent chance that returning to physical activity too early could herniate more material. That’s obviously not good because you’ve reherniated the disc and have to remove more of the extruded disc.
Bear in mind that Dwight was fully recovered, pain free, and ready to work out probably a few weeks after surgery (it is only 1 inch incision after all). BUT returning to physical activity too early gets you that 5-10 percent chance. Keep in mind that means there is a 90 to 95% chance that if he came back after only a month or so he would be fine.
But he is Dwight Howard and so they are being super, super cautious.
4. He had surgery 04/20/2012 which means he should be able to resume training, weights, basketball activity, etc around 08/20/2012 if everything goes according to schedule and he feels no pain, etc.
5. Per Dr. Klapper, based on that schedule Dwight should be ready for opening night (10/30/2012). He’ll have 2 months to get his conditioning back. Again assuming he recovers as expected and at his age and conditioning there should be NO REASON for any setbacks.
6. Dwight will ALWAYS know he had surgery, he’ll ALWAYS feel just a little different. That’s unavoidable. BUT that feeling doesn’t affect his ability to do what he needs to do. Per Dr. Klapper as fans we should be able to tell NO DIFFERENCE in the way he plays. He should have essentially NO difference in his skills, athleticism, etc.
7. By way, reading some medical papers addressing the effects of laminectomy on NBA athletes, those papers support Dr. Klapper’s assertion that Dwight should be back as good as new.
8. That should answer the question why teams are still willing to kill themselves to get Dwight Howard despite this “back injury” issue. It’s a non-issue moving forward. Also why he and his agent are very comfortable not extending and waiting for the end of the season to sign a new max contract. They know, all-world BEAST 3x DPOY Howard is coming back this year. With Stephen A interview, Dwight pointed out that he absolutely felt he could have won a 4th straight DPOY if he had been fully healthy. He’s ready to come back and remind everyone who he is on the basketball floor. Trust me, he may be smiling but this whole Dwightmare did affect him and he’s going to playing with an edge, especially on defense.
The most dominant defensive force in the NBA basically feels disrespected and the league has NO IDEA what is coming down on them from the 5 slot.
Summary: If everything goes according to schedule, we should hear something by the end of August that Dwight is starting to work out again on the court, lifting, running etc.
Chances are good that he’ll be ready for the start of the season.
Chances overwhelmingly good that there will be no lasting effect from this particular injury.
Final point: He played with a lot of pain and discomfort when the incompetent, dumbass Magic medical staff misdiagnosed with “back spasms.” He said it was more pain than he had ever experienced since he was in the league.
That’s why the thing that hurt him personally the most in the media was that he was faking an injury and quitting on his team. He put up All-Star numbers last year playing with a herniated disc.
When I think of Bynum taking plays and games off and openly admitting it while Dwight is still putting up the numbers he did with an injury that ultimately required surgery and in a toxic, destructive environment . . . I think there is no doubt the sort of heart and work ethic Dwight is going to bring to our team.
Hope all of this is a bit reassuring.