Dr. Mark Schwartz

Dr. Schwartz says 2 weeks 'very optimistic' for Embiid's return

Dr. Schwartz says 2 weeks 'very optimistic' for Embiid's return

The question is bigger than his 7-foot-2 frame.

How long will Joel Embiid be out?

Embiid, who was diagnosed Thursday with a concussion and will undergo surgery for an orbital fracture of his left eye, is sidelined just as the Sixers are striving for home-court advantage in the postseason (see story).

It's a precarious situation because of the timing and the unknown. The playoffs open April 14, while the second round starts as early as April 28. Per a report by ESPN's Zach Lowe, Embiid could miss two to four weeks following the date of his surgery, which has yet to be announced.

Two weeks would have Embiid shooting for the first round. Four weeks is another ballgame.

What complicates the return is the orbital fracture coupled with the concussion, according to Dr. Mark Schwartz of Virtua Health.

"A timeframe of two weeks is I think very optimistic," Schwartz, who is not treating Embiid, said during Thursday night's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "It can be as long as four weeks depending on the concussion, swelling around the eye, any potential vision problems and the fact that he's really not going to be able to be aggressively practicing even in a non-contact way because of the concussion protocol."

While the league has seen varying recovery rates for orbital fractures (see story), Embiid's path back becomes murkier because of the concussion.

"NBA players have been known to get back on the court as early as two weeks after such surgery," Schwartz said, "but now with the concussion, that may delay his time to get back to practicing, you don't know whether he's having any vision problems with this."

And it looks like clearing concussion protocol won't be Embiid's only obstacle.

"Plus, he's going to have to get used to wearing this protective mask," Schwartz said. "It doesn't take much more than another elbow to that area to ruin good work."

With all the questions hovering over the Sixers' biggest star, there's no doubt the team's work just got much tougher.

Dr. Schwartz on Embiid: 'He should be back for next season with no restrictions'

Dr. Schwartz on Embiid: 'He should be back for next season with no restrictions'

Despite significant healing in the bone bruise in Joel Embiid's left knee, the rookie was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season on Wednesday after his latest MRI also revealed a bigger meniscus tear than initially diagnosed (see story).

So now what?

The Sixers have not announced any specific course of action for Embiid such as surgery. On Monday, team president Bryan Colangelo said the organization was in no rush to put the oft-injured Embiid back under the knife (see story).

Meniscus tears typically require trimming out the piece that's torn or completely stitching it back into place. If the Sixers do opt for one of those options, Dr. Mark Schwartz of Virtua Health still expects Embiid to be back for the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

"Ideally, you hope you can actually repair it. Long term, it's in his benefit," Schwartz, who is not treating Embiid, said on Wednesday's edition of Comcast SportsNet's Philly Sports Talk. "Either way, he should be back for next season with no restrictions."

With Embiid sidelined since Jan. 27 because of continued swelling and soreness, Schwartz does think it's time to undergo a procedure to remedy the tear.

"I think initially the bulk of the symptoms were coming from the bone bruise and the meniscal symptoms were probably in the background," Schwartz said. "Now that the recent MRI reportedly shows improvement in the bone bruise, I think now that the symptoms from the menisci have come to the surface and I think the new MRI shows the meniscal tear to be bigger than originally thought.

"I think the next step now that you know that he's not going to be playing for the rest of the season and he still has these symptoms and he's had this meniscal tear for quite some time now, I think the next logical step is to look into his knee arthroscopically." 

Doctor: Joel Embiid's bone bruise, meniscal tear likely from 2 different instances

Doctor: Joel Embiid's bone bruise, meniscal tear likely from 2 different instances

Since seemingly everything surrounding the Sixers right now is health-related, Philly Sports Talk on Thursday welcomed Dr. Mark Schwartz, co-medical director for Virtua sports medicine.

Schwartz, who does not treat Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, shared his knowledge and thoughts on the Sixers' injured rookies. 

(His thoughts on Simmons can be found here.)

Schwartz reviewed the tape of the Sixers' game against the Blazers back on Jan. 20, when Embiid was injured. Embiid suffered two falls in that game, coming out for good after the second.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee on the first fall, and the diagnosis on Embiid's knee was a bone bruise. But, as Schwartz says, a hyperextension typically does not result in a bone bruise.

"Hyperextensions can be a ligament tear, possible meniscal tear, but usually you wouldn't see too much of a bone bruise, per se," Schwartz told Michael Barkann.

"It's possible, but I believe there was a second injury."

Ah, the second injury, the meniscal tear the Sixers revealed only last week.

Schwartz went on to describe Embiid's second spill against the Blazers, which can be seen in the video above, as "significant."

"You can get a bone bruise from that, one traumatic event," Schwartz said. "Or sometimes it can be secondary to an overuse injury, repetitive jumping, landing on the knee. I would say that second injury was a significant fall.

"Bone bruises usually occur by contact, a hard fall, the femur being impeded down onto the tibia, knee-to-knee contact, a fall on the floor.

"Meniscal tears are usually due to twisting type of injuries.

"Twenty-five years ago, before we had MRIs, you couldn't really make this diagnosis radiographically. Now these bone bruises are able to be seen on an MRI and you can see the extent of the injury."

Sixers fans hold their breath every time Embiid dives for a loose ball or hits the ground trying to finish in traffic. It seems like this will be a career-long thing for him because it's just his style of play. The reckless abandon Embiid plays with is a primary factor in his success at both ends of the floor.

Can Embiid have a decade-long NBA career playing like this?

"Well, the problem, the NBA has done a study and the taller the player, the higher the injury rate and the shorter the career," Schwartz said.

"So, players over 7-2 certainly have the highest rate of injury in the lower extremities. And then you look at players 6-7 and taller, much different, higher injury rate in the lower extremities than shorter players."