Dr. Schulz explains Jazz Center’s UCL injury in contrast to a baseball injury.
Link to Article: UCL injury explained: Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (sltrib.com)
Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler not only got hurt in the first game of the season, it appears his injury occurred less than a minute and a half into the game.
Kessler could be seen grabbing at his arm, grimacing in pain, and gingerly shaking it out afterward, but he remained in the game.
Kessler wound up playing eight somewhat ineffectual games before the Jazz diagnosed him with a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow, and opted to sit him out for two weeks before a re-evaluation.
Avid sports fans will, of course, recognize a UCL injury as one common to baseball pitchers — as a torn UCL ligament frequently requires “Tommy John” surgery, in which a healthy tendon is extracted from an arm or sometimes a leg and used to replace an arm’s torn ligament. Rehabilitation from such a procedure typically takes up to a year, and sometimes requires up to two years for the player to regain full efficacy.
A UCL injury is basketball, meanwhile, is far more rare. While Kessler’s injury being diagnosed as a sprain rather than a tear is a good sign, the fact is a sprain technically is, at best, a stretching of the ligament, and, at worst, a partial or full tear of it.
Lest that sound a bit worrisome to Jazz fans concerned about just how long Kessler’s injury might wind up taking, Dr. Brian Schulz is here to assuage you.
He has not evaluated Kessler, but he is an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, and he is a Major League Baseball team physician, so he’s well-versed in UCL injuries.
“I take care of the Los Angeles Angels, and unfortunately, we’ve had our share,” Schulz told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s a pretty common injury in professional baseball.”
It’s far less common in basketball — but that’s apparently a good thing.
“It’s definitely not the same kind of concern you would have with a baseball player and his throwing arm,” Schulz added.
He reviewed video of Kessler’s injury, and agreed to a Q&A with The Tribune to discuss USCL injuries generally, and perhaps what to expect with the Jazz big man.
Read more about UCL injury here.