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The Early Lead
Posted at 05:35 PM ET, 01/31/2012

Sidney Crosby had neck injury in addition to concussion


Sid the Kid is back at practice but the Penguins say he will not return to action until he is symptom-free. (Alan Diaz - AP)

UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): With reporters surrounding a podium, they thought would house an afternoon press conference with Sidney Crosby and representatives from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team instead chose to release a short statement, detailing the recovery progress of their injured star.

An independent specialist contacted to review recent medical tests taken on Sidney Crosby found no evidence of a past or present neck fracture but verified that Crosby is suffering from a soft-tissue injury of the neck, that could be causing neurological symptoms....
(Dr. Robert S.) Bray has treated Crosby with an injection to alleviate swelling in the C1-2 joint of the neck and will be overseeing his progression with therapists.
Doctors say the symptoms of a soft-tissue neck injury are similar to concussion symptoms.

Vaccaro, Bray and UPMC doctors all agree that Crosby is safe, the injury is treatable, and he will return to action when he is symptom-free.”

Sidney Crosby was on the ice in Pittsburgh for the second straight day Tuesday, but there remains no timetable for his return to action for the Penguins.

On Saturday, the team acknowledged that Crosby’s visit with Los Angeles-based neurological spine specialist Dr. Robert S. Bray uncovered an unspecified neck injury that was “fully healed.”

At the suggestion of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Crosby also visited Utah-based physical therapist Alex Guerrero, who reportedly discovered an abnormality with Crosby’s C1 and C2 vertebrae. The team has not issued a statement confirming the report.

The injury, suffered last January, was overshadowed by the concussion that ultimately ended Crosby’s season on Jan. 5, 2011.

Crosby skated at Consol Energy for the first time in more than six weeks on Monday and drew praise from coach Dan Bylsma who said Crosby was “pretty excited” to be back to work and skated at a “pretty good clip.”


Pittsburgh’s captain has not played since Dec. 5. (Gene J. Puskar - AP)
A surprise to many — including Pittsburgh’s own medical staff — the discovery of the neck injury may prompt Crosby to seek further help beyond the team’s doctors in his ongoing recovery process.

At the suggestion of Brady, Crosby visited Guerrero to seek further advice on his lingering injury. Guerrero helped Brady along during his recovery from knee surgery in 2008.

“I trust him,” Brady said on Tuesday during Super Bowl Media Day in Indianapolis. “I know I wouldn’t be here today without him.”

But Crosby’s teammates don’t believe he has lost faith in the team’s medical staff.

“I think that in any situation or any injury or any NHL player, if you look long enough, hard enough you’d find something too,” forward Matt Cooke said. “No one doubted there was something bugging Sid and if this was it, maybe they can move on with it.”

Bylsma also defended his team’s medical staff following Crosby’s 45-minute contact-free Monday workout.

“I feel, Sidney feels, he’s gotten every possible support from the Penguins and the Penguins’ medical staff in the situation he’s in, to try to find an answer to where he’s at, what his condition is, what is his best road for recovery,” Bylsma said. “He’s gotten every available support from both the Penguins and from our medical staff and going other places and getting medical treatment. That’s how we feel about it and I know Sidney feels the same way.”

Crosby has not played since Dec. 5 and has played in only eight games since last January.

More from Washington Post Sports:

Penguins head into second half optimistic about Crosby’s return

Sidney Crosby recovering from neck injury in addition to concussion

By  |  05:35 PM ET, 01/31/2012

 
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