Virginia head athletic trainer discusses timeline for Assane Sene’s recovery

Virginia senior center Assane Sene will be in a compression dressing splint for 10 days to two weeks following surgery Friday to stabilize his fractured right ankle with three screws and one plate, according to the school’s head athletic trainer.

Ethan Saliba, who oversees Virginia’s athletic trainers and travels with the men’s basketball team, said in a telephone interview Saturday night that a bone on the inside of Sene’s right ankle was minimally displaced late in the first half of the Cavaliers’ 70-38 win Thursday at Georgia Tech and that surgery will allow the 7-foot center to be “as aggressive as you sensibly can” with the rehabilitation process.

Sene, who has started every game this season, is expected to miss approximately six weeks while recovering from the surgery. Should that timetable hold, he would be able to return near the very end of the regular season in early March.

“It can happen,” Saliba said of the commonality of Sene’s type of injury. “I’ve seen ‘em before. It’s always kind of sad anytime an injury takes place, but it’s not a career-ending type of injury.”

Initially, Saliba did not know the full extent of Sene’s injury, but he knew it was serious enough that an X-ray exam was needed. However, Georgia Tech’s home games are being played off campus this season while a new on-campus facility is constructed, and the Yellow Jackets’ temporary home court – Philips Arena – is not equipped with X-ray machinery, Saliba said.

So Sene received an X-ray exam once the team returned to Charlottesville early Friday morning, and it was determined surgery was the best course of corrective action. David Diduch, the school’s head orthopaedic team physician, already was in surgery that morning and arranged to conduct Sene’s procedure, as well.

“It wasn’t that it was emergent,” Saliba said. “It was just that this would have been the best intervention.”

The challenge for Sene in the coming weeks, Saliba said, will be to maintain his conditioning as best he can while his right ankle remains immobilized and unable to bear considerable weight. Sene will be able to lift weights with his upper body, as well as with his left leg during the next two weeks, at which point the stitches in his right ankle will be removed.

“When the stitches come out, then he can start doing some very controlled movement of the ankle,” Saliba said. “Hopefully as the bone heals he’s not starting from ground zero, as far as trying to get him back to basketball-worthy condition.”

After the stitches are removed, Sene will undergo serial X-ray exams every two weeks to follow the bone healing process, according to Saliba. As the bone progresses, Sene will be allowed to bear more weight on it until he is close enough to full strength to return to the court.

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