Sophomore guard Dion Wiley sat out of Maryland's exhibition game Friday night against Southern New Hampshire with swelling in his right knee that he noticed at practice the day before. The injury was downplayed a bit, partially because of the other storylines unfolding for the No. 3 team in the nation, but Saturday afternoon's news brought it to light. Wiley has a tear in his right meniscus.
There are two ways players go about rehabbing meniscus injuries and both demand different recovery times and long-term health implications. To better understand the injury Testudo Times got in touch with Jeff Stotts, a certified physical trainer and injury analyst for Rotowire.com, DallasBasketball.com, and his own website InStreetClothes.com.
First we need to understand what Wiley injured.
"The menisci are specialized cartilage that sits between the bone of the upper leg and the lower leg bones. Basically it prevents bone from rubbing on bone during weight bearing," Stotts wrote in an email.
Meniscus injuries aren't all that uncommon in hoops, and several NBA players have been in similar situations to Wiley. Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are just a few examples of NBA stars who dealt the meniscus injuries in the past couple of years and were able to bounce back.
Recovery options are to either have the meniscus repaired or removed, though the option isn't totally up to the athlete, Stotts said.
As far as recovery times, repairs often leave players sidelined for three to six months, while removals can have athletes return to activity in six weeks, according to Stotts.
So, why not aim to remove the meniscus and have Wiley ready by Big Ten play?
"Removing a portion of either disc can result in the surface of the bones rubbing on one another," wrote Stotts. "This can cause degeneration of the knee joint to occur at an accelerated rate, increasing the risk for arthritis."
Despite the possible long-term effects, removals are still the more common path to recovering from a meniscus injury, and Stotts doesn't believe a removal will affect Wiley's style of play after rehabbing.
If repairing the meniscus is an option for Wiley, past results are encouraging. The success rates for repairs are pretty high, according to Stotts, and he should heal well, though his risk for injury will be elevated.
However, a repair may not even be an option for Wiley, as the injury has to occur in a very specific area.
"Unfortunately damage often occurs on the periphery of the discs where the blood supply is low and a repair isn't often warranted," said Stotts.
The public isn't aware of the extent of the injury just yet and will have to wait until after Wiley has surgery in Baltimore this week to hear a timetable for his return.
As for his post-surgery period, Wiley will have help from Maryland's prized director of basketball performance, Kyle Tarp, and staff, and slowly work his way back to possibly re-joining the Big Ten favorite Terrapins.
"The general rehab outline involves an early focus on range of motion before moving to strengthening. Progressive weight bearing is then utilized before [Wiley] begins sports-specific exercises and activity," Stotts said.
For now, Maryland's depth will be tested, as transfer senior Rasheed Sulaimon and sophomore Jared Nickens figure to assume larger roles.