The long road ahead for Blazers' Zach Collins
Don't expect Zach Collins to return to the Trail Blazers' lineup before the tail end of the regular season, or perhaps only for the NBA playoffs.
That's the word, anyway, from Dr. Joshua Dines, a sports medicine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Collins dislocated his left shoulder in a 121-119 victory at Dallas on Oct. 27. The 7-foot power forward underwent surgery to repair the labrum on Nov. 5. The Blazers announced Collins will be re-evaluated in about four months.
Dines is not privy to inside information on the Collins injury and has not viewed his MRI scan. But Dines, who has been in practice for 12 years, performs about 150 labrum surgeries a year.
"I do as many as anybody," he said Thursday.
Dines said the recuperation process takes time.
"There are subtleties with each case," he said. "But with the typical recovery, the first four to six weeks go slow, with gentle movements (allowed). By three months, the patient feels 75 percent better. Between four and six months, he can return to full activity and get to the point where he feels like he didn't have surgery."
As far as a return to active duty, "four months is on the short end of that," Dines said. "I would typically wait five to six months before clearing somebody for full activity."
That would mean the earliest Collins could return would be for the final 10 days of the regular season. Portland has five games during that period, beginning with an April 5 home date against Memphis. A six-month wait would mean a May 5 return, which would occur during the second round of the playoffs.
The Blazers were vague in their release to the media about Collins' surgery, saying only that that it was to "repair his left labrum."
Dines said if a person's shoulder is dislocated, the damage is inflicted in one of three ways.
"The shoulder is on the ball of a socket," the New York surgeon said. "Sometimes a piece of the socket can break off. Or the rotator cuff can tear, which typically happens in older patients. The third possibility is the most common — the labral tear. When that's the case, you go in surgically and sew the labrum back into the socket."
Dines said Collins' young age — he turns 22 on Nov. 19 — likely played a role in the decision for surgery as a preventative measure for the future.
"He's young," Dines said. "After it pops out the first time, the risk of it happening again is about 90 percent, especially when you're playing a contact sport. Each time you reinjure it, the tear can get worse, and you're heading down a bad path. That's something you want to prevent with a relatively straightforward procedure.
"(With the surgery) you've reduced the risk of it happening again to about five percent. You've mitigated that risk significantly."
Dines said there is one advantage to an injury to a shoulder for an NBA player.
"The athlete has to work on cardio to get back into game shape," he said. "If it's a knee, you're limited. With an upper body injury, at least he can do lower-extremity workouts through the recovery process. And once he gets back, he can get back to playing shape relatively quickly."
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