05-25-2009, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Stoudemire healing slow and steady
Amaré Stoudemire is not jumping, jogging or biking.
The most important functions for the Suns All-Star forward three months after eye surgery are resorbing and regenerating.
After suffering a retina detachment that his surgeon believes has never happened to an athlete of his caliber, Stoudemire is enduring a healing process that moves in a stark contrast to how he has sped up and down the court for the Suns.
From an October poke that tore his right iris to a February strike near the same eye, Stoudemire had suffered cumulative trauma that led to the Feb. 20 surgical discovery of relatively large tears on his right eye's retina. A thick fluid under the retina must be removed for Stoudemire to heal but draining it was too risky in February, leaving Stoudemire to wait for his body to resorb the fluid and nerve cells to regenerate.
Dr. Pravin Dugel, Stoudemire's surgeon with Retinal Consultants of Arizona, was able to drain thicker pockets of fluid in Stoudemire's eye two weeks ago but there is more to wait on as Dugel follows a cautious approach to the 26-year-old's recovery. The team initially had announced that the surgery would put Stoudemire out for eight weeks, leaving some playoff hope open until Dugel ruled that out two weeks later, saying the recuperation could take months.
"It's happening slowly but it's headed in the right direction," Dugel said of the fluid resorbing. "The process is not just to let the retina be flat but the idea is to make it flat and resume his career. That bar is extremely high."
Dugel performed a similar surgery on former Coyotes player Landon Wilson after a puck struck him in the eye in 2002. Wilson is still playing in the NHL but Dugel said Wilson's torn retina and optic nerve damage was not as extensive as Stoudemire's trauma.
Stoudemire had scarring around and under the retina and blood in his eye.
"It's important for people to understand the severity of this when you have a retinal detachment that happens in a young person and one that happens this severely, it's about as serious of a condition as I can think of," Dugel said.
Dugel is seeing Stoudemire every week to two weeks and will require Stoudemire to don protective eyewear for the rest of his basketball career. Stoudemire now has 20/25 vision with glasses.
Suns General Manager Steve Kerr is in regular contact with Dugel and remains confident Stoudemire will be ready for training camp in October.
"Because of the sensitive nature of it, he'd rather not surgically repair it," Kerr said. "We have plenty of time."
Stoudemire has been able to travel and is in Atlanta this week for off-court interests. On Friday, he will appear on NBA TV's pregame show at 4:30 p.m.