After a disheartening climax in the 2021-22 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics have made it abundantly clear that they plan to remain favorites to win it all this season.
During the offseason break, the team bolstered its roster by signing a top two-way guard in Malcolm Brogdon, a small forward in Danilo Gallinari and a former first-round pick in Blake Griffin.
Apart from the Ime Udoka incident, things have been going very well recently.
Another reason to be excited about this season is the potential return to the NBA of former Celtics big man Aron Baynes.
Baynes was one of the executors who guided 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 ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Former Boston Celtics big man Aron Baynes returns to the NBA
During last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, Aron Baynes suffered a nasty fall while diving during the warm-up lines before second half 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 lying 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) scan was performed on his neck and showed that he had a hemorrhage 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 loculated bleeding that can be expansive.
Treatment of this condition generally consists of decompressing the spine where the HEC is located, although spontaneous recovery has been reported in some cases. That may 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. On day 11 of his hospitalization, he was able to stand up for the first time since the incident, and a couple of months later, he was able to run. It is clear that he has made a remarkable comeback since the injury, as he was recently signed by the Brisbane Bullets of the National Basketball League. For detailed coverage of the injury, watch TheAthleteSpine’s video.
Spinal Cord Injury and Current Research Efforts
Approximately 17,500 Americans suffer from SCI annually, with a survival rate that ranges from 47 to 62 percent depending on the level of paresis/plegia they have. Although the patient is the one who suffers the most, it is really an ordeal for the whole family. SCI and traumatic brain injury (TBI) fall under the umbrella term neurotrauma.
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Recently, I joined as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. I am under the direction of Dr. Nitin Agarwal, who is the Director of Neurotrauma. Our research is currently focused on improving outcomes and methods for early detection of neurotrauma through a series of clinical trials. Our research can also be translated for use in professional sports so that return to play after neurotrauma can be achieved more safely.
You can follow my social media accounts and Dr. Agarwal’s accounts (@NitinAgarwalMD on Twitter; @nitinagarwalmd on Instagram; Nitin Agarwal on Facebook) and website for updates on our discoveries.
It remains to be seen if Baynes will return to the NBA, but his willingness and desire show that he has the heart of a champion. In fact, he earned a roster token for the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. All sports fans are incredibly happy to see him play basketball again. We at Chowder and Champions are hoping that some NBA team (that’s the Celtics) will pick it up very soon.
The Boston Celtics are set to kick off the season by taking on Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers on October 19.