When could Joel Embiid return to the court? Eagles' head team physician weighs in

Joel Embiid suffered a concussion and a fracture to the orbital bone near his left eye in Wednesday’s victory over the New York Knicks, the 76ers confirmed Thursday night. Embiid is slated to have surgery in the coming days.

According to Peter DeLuca, M.D., the head team physician for the Eagles, head team orthopaedic surgeon for the Flyers, and an orthopaedic surgeon for the the Rothman Institute, the recovery time after surgery to repair an orbital fracture could be two to four weeks, and the recovery time for the concussion could be anywhere from one to four weeks.

Here is what DeLuca had to say regarding Embiid’s injury:

What can you tell us about orbital fractures?

“In general there are two types of fractures that involve the orbital bone that contains the eye, a rim fracture and a blowout fracture. The potential complications are eye related. We don’t know which one Joel has. A rim fracture involves a stronger bone, and a blowout involves a thin bone that is easier to fracture. But the blowout is the more serious of the two because it has the potential for more complications if not fixed. My guess would be that Joel’s is a blowout fracture, but that’s just a guess. If the blowout fracture is not treated it can affect vision, and muscle can get caught in bony fragments and affect movement. Additionally, fat around eye can get caught in the bony fragments and can cause pain or cosmetically cause the eye to look like it is down in socket.”

What makes you think this is potentially a blowout fracture rather than a rim fracture? 

“This was not a high energy injury like in a motor vehicle accident, which is usually when we see a rim fracture.”

What is a general recovery time after surgery on a blowout fracture of the orbital bone?

The area is vascular so it heals quickly. It typically heals within four weeks. But he could potentially play in two weeks with goggles or a face shield.”

What about the recovery time once a player is placed in a concussion protocol?

“Hard to say. Concussions are so unpredictable these days. The fact that it wasn’t seen right away is not uncommon and that also doesn’t tell us anything about the severity of the concussion. It depends on what part of the brain is affected by the concussion and what his symptoms are. In hockey it’s often the vestibular system and that involves balance. Those typically take longer to recover from. In football it’s more often a different part of the brain where symptoms are related to headaches and sensitivity to light. Those seem to recover faster. Completing the concussion protocol could take anywhere where from one week to four weeks.”

Is there any connection or does it mean anything that Embiid has sustained other bone fractures in the past, in other parts of his body?

“If there are questions about him being prone to these types of bony fractures because of previous injures, the answer is no. He is not predisposed to bony fractures.”