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O'Brien Still Not Expecting Tyler Hansbrough Back, Raises Postconcussive Syndrome As Possible Issue

Jim O'Brien doesn't mind making news on his radio show.

Last week the Indiana Pacers coach just happened to mention that he didn't expect rookie Tyler Hansbrough to return to action again this season. It was such a casual mention that it caught me off guard while driving down the road. As often happens, I was lamenting the lack of DVR rewind capabilities on my car radio.

I missed tonight's show, but started getting emails about JOB commenting further on Hansbrough's health and status for the rest of the year amidst a barrage of feisty calls about his coaching decisions (can't wait for the podcast of this one to go up).

Kevin Lee, the JOB Show's host and host of Trackside, put the coach's comments in context for me and confirmed that JOB added postconcussive syndrome (PCS) to the issues keeping Hansbrough sidelined. Here's an email Kevin sent me on the topic:

He (JOB) said last week that he didn't expect to have Tyler back this season.  Tonight, he said as he understands it from the medical staff, Tyler is dealing with an inner ear infection and possibly also post concussion syndrome.  Regardless, he's been dealing with dizziness and vertigo and hasn't been able to practice or do any work.  (None of that is direct quote, but taken from my notes and memory).  He then said "It's pretty much been determined that he won't be with us on court the rest of the season."

That's not too much different from last week and leaves a little wiggle room for his return, but the post concussion syndrome possibility is the first time it's been spoken of on the record.

These comments definitely make a return by Hansbrough this year sound more unlikely. Last week's comments seemed like pure speculation. No way JOB makes the same comment if it hadn't "pretty much been determined" by the team that Hansbrough is indeed done for the year.

Of course, this raises plenty of question about the PCS impact on Hansbrough and notice the qualifier that he's "possibly" dealing with PCS. The dizziness/vertigo issue appears to be the main culprit as opposed to the infection and/or actual concussion.

 Here's a link to a thorough clinical explanation of PCS including the following prognosis.

  • True prognosis is difficult to define given that many patients with minor symptoms may not enter the health care system and those that participate in research appear to have more significant symptoms at baseline. In addition, a wide heterogeneity exists in patients enrolled in studies.
  • Most patients recover fully in less than 3 months, although some small studies suggest persistence of minor cognitive defects for asymptomatic minor traumatic brain injury patients.
  • Approximately 15% of patients complain of problems more than 12 months after injury. This group is likely to experience persistent and intrusive symptoms that may be refractory to treatment and impose a lifelong disability.
  • At least one study found the persistence of dizziness as a symptom seemed to portend a longer and more significant symptom complex. Other studies found the depression, pain, and symptom invalidity were correlated with longer and worse symptoms.

If this is a 3 month deal then keeping him out for the rest of the season makes sense when put against the timeline of his absence this year. Is this his first bout with PCS? Was there an event which triggered the PCS issues? Are rumors of this re-occurring from his days at UNC valid?

Unfortunately, I wouldn't expect any answers and at this point only time will tell despite all of the speculation this news may draw out.