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Health Team

Swift surgery makes UNC point guard's return possible

Posted March 19, 2012 7:02 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2012 8:07 a.m. EDT

Just 24 hours after suffering a fracture of his scaphoid bone, Kendall Marshall, point guard for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, was recovering from surgery and contemplating playing again.

Marshall's father said his son would decide later in the week whether to return to the court when his team faces Ohio Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen. And that return is a very real possibility, according to Dr. Wallace Andrew, a hand surgeon with Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic.

Andrew was not the operating surgeon for Marshall's injury, but said he has seen similar wrist fractures at his clinic.

"It would be the same injury that John Henson had except that Henson didn't quite hit hard enough," Andrew said. "And I suspect Marshall had a little rotation with his."

Marshall's teammate John Henson sat out three games – two in the ACC Tournament and one in the NCAA Tournament – with a sprained wrist.

Andrew said Marshall's method of treatment – surgery and the insertion of a self-tightening screw to fix the break – is a common course for athletes. 

"As you tighten the screw, it compresses the fracture site together and gives it better stability," he said.

Marshall's wrist will be stable enough to play, Andrew said. Most patients wear a cast to immobilize the thumb. A hand therapist could make a soft plastic cast for Marshall, who could replace it with heavy tape to play.

Whether he does or not is a matter of his pain tolerance."If you do surgery, it will make it safe for you to play," Andrew said. "It's going to be painful, and it just depends on how painful it is."

Andrew noted that should the Tar Heels advance, Marshall would likely feel less pain as time goes on.