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Caution in order for Al Horford’s concussion

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“You can't mess with the brain” - Isaiah Thomas

NBA: Boston Celtics-Media Day David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The latest update on Al Horford’s concussion is that there’s no real update. The thing with concussions is that you have to be patient and deliberate. This is one area of sports science where there are a lot more unknowns than knowns so caution rules the day.

Horford spoke in vague terms to reporters today about his condition. He’s eager to get back to playing, but he has to wait until he’s feeling 100%.

Per MassLive:

"I'm doing all right. Still working some things out," the four-time All-Star said Tuesday after going through a light practice. "Just not where I want to be right now, but trying to work through it. This is something very new to me, so it's just trying to get used to this."

As Scott Souza points out, rushing him back could cost him even more games.

He desperately wants to play, he assured, on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden. But he is in uncharted territory with an injury that can’t be gauged with an x-ray or MRI, adding that the last thing he wants is to have to sit out another extended stretch because he pushed to come back before he was ready.

It goes beyond that though. The Mayo Web Clinic lists some scary potential complications that could arise from a serious concussion. They include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries
  • Postconcussion syndrome
  • Post-traumatic headaches
  • Post-traumatic vertigo
  • Second impact syndrome

It concludes by saying the following:

After a concussion, the levels of brain chemicals are altered. It usually takes about a week for these levels to stabilize again. However, recovery time is variable, and it's important for athletes never to return to sports while they're still experiencing signs and symptoms of concussion.

This is why the NBA has a rigid protocol system that players with head injuries must go through before they are cleared to play.

People have been asking me if this recovery time is “normal” and if there’s something to be worried about here. My only response is that a concussion is always something to be worried about, and there is no “normal” recovery for a concussion because the brain and head injuries are still such a mystery.

All we can do is hope he makes progress and returns to full health—not just for the Celtics but also for his own welfare.