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Kobe Bryant's injury was neck trauma, neurologist says

Opinion of Dr. Vern Williams is that the symptoms experienced by the Lakers star after absorbing a hard foul at the All-Star game were more in line with a neck issue than a concussion.

February 29, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Kobe Bryant's neurologist says the Lakers star suffered soft-tissue damage in his neck after being fouled by Miami's Dwyane Wade in Sunday's All-Star game.
Kobe Bryant's neurologist says the Lakers star suffered soft-tissue… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Kobe Bryant played against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Exactly how did it happen?

He suffered a concussion Sunday in the All-Star game but his symptoms two days later were related to neck trauma, not a concussion, said Bryant's neurologist, Vern Williams.

Williams held a brief news conference before Wednesday's tip-off to clarify his findings and detail Bryant's sometimes unsteady path after taking a hard foul from Miami guard Dwyane Wade in the third quarter of the All-Star game.

Bryant had some concussion symptoms Sunday, Williams said, and still had some issues Tuesday.

"His primary symptom was headache, and that headache was associated with some nausea, with some sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound," Williams said. "Those are very frequent and commonly seen symptoms related to concussion. However, the extenuating factor in Kobe's case is that he also had a significant component of neck soreness … whiplash, if you will … and that can also result in the exact same kinds of symptoms in some people.

"My opinion was that the overwhelming majority, the significant majority of his symptoms on Tuesday were related to that [neck pain]."

The neck injury was soft-tissue damage and wasn't expected to be an ongoing problem, Williams said, adding that Bryant had full range of motion and good reflexes in the area.

Bryant was symptom-free all day Wednesday and went through a variety of stages in order to meet the NBA's requirements for players returning from concussions.

Bryant passed a neurological test and also exertion tests on a stationary bike and treadmill, as well as an agility test. He then successfully endured a two-on-two basketball game at the team's training facility.

Williams said Bryant's return was "somewhat accelerated" step-wise, but he was satisfied with the results at each stage.

"He's gone through every one of the specific tests that we've required him to go through and has passed them all with flying colors," said Williams, who saw Bryant four times in a 36-hour period.

Devin Ebanks must wait

Forward Devin Ebanks was recalled from the Development League but wasn't guaranteed playing time with the Lakers.

"It's tough," Coach Mike Brown said before Wednesday's game. "I think we're playing some pretty good basketball right now and so for me to just throw him in, I don't know if I should do that because it will mess with the continuity that we have."

Ebanks started the Lakers' first four games but averaged only 2.7 points in 12 games before being sent to the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

He averaged 18.3 points and six rebounds in three games with the Lakers' Development League affiliate.

"He just has to keep trying to get better and if an opportunity arises because of this reason or that reason, take advantage of whatever minutes he gets," Brown said.

Brown hinted that "other guys" might be sent to the Development League as well. Darius Morris could be the next candidate. He did not suit up on Wednesday.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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