After a disheartening climax to the 2021-22 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics have made it abundantly clear that they plan on staying favorites to win it all this season.
During the off-season hiatus, the team bolstered their roster by signing a top-notch two-way guard in Malcolm Brogdon, a stretch forward in Danilo Gallinari, and a former first pick in Blake Griffin.
Apart from the Ime Udoka incident, things have been going great recently.
Another reason to be excited for this season is for the potential NBA return of a former Celtics big man, Aron Baynes.
Baynes was one of the enforcers guiding the young Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2017-18 season. He was extremely skilled and developed a reliable 3-point shot during his tenure with the team. Due to a spinal cord injury (SCI), Baynes was sidelined from basketball action for a couple of months. This story was first covered by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
Former Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes making his way back to the NBA
During last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, Aron Baynes suffered a nasty fall while dunking during the warm-up lines before the second half of action against the Nigerian team.
The Australian big man landed on his head and neck and was sidelined for the rest of the game. Three days later, Baynes was discovered sprawled out in the bathroom with the inability to move his lower limbs and left arm.
After being taken to the hospital, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his neck was performed, and it showed that he had a bleed pressing on his spinal cord. In medical terminology, this is known as a traumatic cervical epidural hematoma (CEH). This condition occurs when a blood vessel ruptures leading to the creation of a loculated bleed which may be expansile.
The management of this condition is usually by decompressing the spine from where the CEH lies, although in some instances, spontaneous recovery has been reported. It is possible that could have happened in this case, as there were no reports of any surgery being performed.
The sports world is glad to see the former Boston Celtics big man recover. During the 11th day of his hospitalization, he was able to stand for the first time since the incident, and a couple of months later, he was able to sprint. It is clear that he has made a remarkable recovery since the injury, as he was recently signed by the Brisbane Bullets of the National Basketball League. For an in-depth coverage of the injury, check out the video by TheAthleteSpine.
Spinal Cord Injury and the Current Research Efforts
Approximately 17,500 Americans suffer from SCI annually, with a survival rate varying from 47-62 percent depending on the level of presenting paresis/plegia. Though the patient suffers the most, it is truly a whole family ordeal. SCI and traumatic brain injury (TBI) fall under the umbrella term of neurotrauma.
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Recently, I joined as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery, at the Washington University School of Medicine. I am under the guidance of Dr. Nitin Agarwal, who is the Director of Neurotrauma. Our research currently focuses on improving outcomes and methods for earlier detection of neurotrauma through a series of clinical trials. Our research can also be translated for use in professional sports, such that fitness for return to play after sustaining neurotrauma can be given with greater assurance.
You can follow my social media accounts and Dr. Agarwal’s accounts (@NitinAgarwalMD on Twitter; @nitinagarwalmd on Instagram; Nitin Agarwal on Facebook) and website, to receive up-to-date information on our discoveries.
It remains to be known if Baynes will return to the NBA, but his willingness and desire shows that he has the heart of a champion. In fact, he won a chip with the 2014 San Antonio Spurs squad. All sports fans are incredibly happy to see him play basketball again. We at Chowder and Champions hope he eventually gets picked up by an NBA team (please be the Celtics) very soon.
The Boston Celtics are set to start off the season by facing Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers on October 19th.