Zach Collins – What does his dislocation mean for the Blazers?

The Blazers forward has suffered a “left shoulder dislocation” during a battle for a rebound in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow to confirm the severity of the injury.

Collins left the game near the end of the third quarter after getting his arm caught up with Luka Doncic. He instantly put his right hand over his left shoulder and exited the game to ehead to the locker room. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts informed the media immediately post-game that his young forward had suffered a dislocation.

A shoulder dislocation is an injury where the top of upper arm bone (humerus) is forced out of its normal position in the shoulder socket (see below). An anterior dislocation where the shoulder is displaced forward, towards the front of the body is the most common type of dislocation occurring in over 95% of cases.

Collins likely has an anterior dislocation for a number of reasons beyond the statistics. When he contested the rebound with Doncic, his left shoulder was forced upwards which causes the humerus to move forward (anteriorly). Also, Collins instantly put his right hand on the front (anterior section) of the left shoulder.

With a shoulder dislocation, X-ray is required to check if any fracture is present. Then the shoulder must be reduced or “popped back into place.” The Blazer’s medical team hasn’t reported if there were any findings on X-ray but did mention that his shoulder popped back in “so cleanly” which is a great sign for his recovery.

We’ll have to wait to see what the MRI reports say before knowing how long it’ll take for Collins to get back on the court. Following a dislocation, we’d expect an anterior dislocation of the shoulder to disrupt the joint capsule and potentially some stabilising ligaments. Any findings such as a tear to the labrum will extend recovery times and may require surgery.

Shoulder dislocations in young athletes also have high rates of recurrence which can lead to chronic shoulder instability so we can expect Collins to have a few weeks off. There are many NBA players that have suffered this injury – Dwyane Wade suffered a dislocated left shoulder with a labral tear in 2007 which required surgery and caused him to miss 23 games. Kevin Love spent six months rehabbing his shoulder following surgery after Kelly Olynyk yanked his shoulder out during the Cavs’ 2015-16 playoff run. In 2011,  Channing Frye dislocated his right shoulder but only missed 5 games over a two-week period. Hopefully, Collins will be more like the latter – we’ll know more once the MRI confirms what structures are injured. Best case scenario, likely 2-3 weeks if not requiring surgery. Otherwise a possible 4-6 months if surgery is needed.

1. Watson et al., 2016. A Clinical Review of RTP considerations after anterior shoulder dislocation. SH
2. Brukner & Khan, 2015. Clinical Sports Medicine 5th ed

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