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Crosby Expected to Make Full Recovery and Return to Game Action

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins center Sidney Crosby has made “significant progress” the last three weeks and is expected to make a full recovery from a concussion he suffered in early January.

While there are no certainties involved with a concussion, Crosby and doctors are optimistic he will return to the ice, but there is still no timetable for when he will play again.

“I’m very optimistic that we’ll see Sid have a very long, fruitful NHL career,” said Dr. Michael Collins, director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. “The prognosis is excellent that Sid will not have any long-term problems from this injury. I’m supremely confident of that issue. The return to play issue, I’m equally confident. I think we’ll get there. We’re not there yet and we have work to do before we get there.

“Recently Sid has made exceptional progress toward improving and becoming normal. In order for him to go back to play, he needs to be reconditioned 100 percent without having symptoms. … There is no timeline on this. We cannot predict when that will occur.”

“Mentally I feel good, probably the best I’ve felt,” Crosby said. “I’m really happy with the last three weeks. It’s been a tough road.”

Crosby, who was accompanied by general manager Ray Shero and his two concussion doctors, Dr. Collins and Dr. Ted Carrick at Wednesday's media conference, responded to Internet rumors that he was going to retire.

“Retirement? No,” Crosby said. “I always thought about the consequences of this injury and making sure I’m smart with it because at the end of the day (retirement) is the last thing I want. That being said, I did not give a whole lot of thought to (retiring).”

And after being asked of the possibility that he would never play again, Crosby responded: “Pretty slight. I wouldn’t bet on that.”

Dr. Carrick, director of Carrick Institute in Florida and distinguished professor of neurology at Life University in Georgia, said Crosby will make a full recovery and won’t have any long-term issues from the concussion.

“It’s Christmas for Sidney Crosby and the people who care for him,” Carrick said. “It’s Christmas because it’s a celebration. Our greatest direction is to ensure that Sid has a very fruitful and positive life, that he can do anything he wishes to do in hockey and after hockey. … This is going to have a very good outcome. Sid shouldn’t have any problems in the future.”

While there is no timetable for Crosby’s return, there is a “systematic process” regarding his return to play, according to Dr. Collins, who handles 4,000 concussion cases every year.

Crosby will continue his reconditioning, which is pushing himself at different levels of exertion (80 percent for example) and making sure there are no symptoms before progressing to higher exertion. Once Crosby reaches 100 percent exertion without “decrements in functioning,” the doctors will introduce light, moderate contact.

“We will introduce contact in a very careful way and we’re not even close to that right now,” Dr. Collins said. “We need to make sure Sid is able to recondition fully without any return of these symptoms. We’re going to measure him with ImPACT and our testing every step of the way. We’re going to make sure that we do this in a systematic, careful way. When he’s ready, we’ll know.”

Due to long-term health and recovery benefits, Crosby and company stressed that they will not introduce contact until the Penguins captain is at 100 percent.

“I think 90 percent is good, but at the same time if there are symptoms and things aren’t right, 90 percent isn’t really good enough,” Crosby said. “I’m probably putting myself into position to get hit and mess that system up a little bit more. I don’t want to do that. Maybe I could get by with 90 percent, maybe I couldn’t. But I’m not going to roll the dice on that.”

L-R: Dr. Ted Carrick, Sudbet Crosby, Ray Shero, Dr. Michael Collins
That assessment is shared by the Penguins brass and doctors.

“Outcomes are much better at 100 percent,” Dr. Collins said. “We’re not going to allow Sid to go back at 90 percent. I can guarantee you one thing, that he will be 100 percent normal before he goes back to play.

“I work with a lot of different organizations and a lot of different athletes who have concussions. With the Penguins, I’ve never seen a group of individuals more committed to making sure this is done right. It will be done right.”

“From the team standpoint, the 80, 90 percent we hear about, he will not return to play until he is 100 percent,” Shero said. “Here is a player over my five years who has played less than 80 percent with injuries, as many athletes do. But there is no 90 percent returning from a concussion.

“We’re looking forward to having him back. As I’ve said before, he will be worth the wait. He won’t be rushed. As we sit here today, we are pleased with his progress.”

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