Celtics forward Gordon Hayward lies on the court after injuring his ankle during the first quarter of Tuesday's season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Celtics played Wednesday night at home against Milwakee. See coverage, Page D3. (USA TODAY SPORTS)
The ankle injury that Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered in the season-opening game Tuesday night might have looked gruesome to the average viewer, but to an orthopedic surgeon, it certainly could have been much worse.
Dr. Rolf Langeland, head of Newport Orthopedics, a Lifespan Physician Group practice in Rhode Island, said on Wednesday that people with such injuries typically take about five months to fully recover.
“He’s looking at three months” for the body to recover, he said, “and more like five months for basketball activities,” after rehabbing the ligaments to strengthen them.
Langeland explained that Hayward sustained “a rotational injury” in which his foot was planted when he landed from a jump, and the torque of his twisting body first fractured his tibia, then his fibula, bones on either side of his ankle. The fall also dislocated his ankle, which required the medical personnel on site to re-align it as quickly as possible in order to avoid further injury.
The injury is considered “closed” since it didn’t break the skin. “In my spectrum, it’s a 2 out of 10 (in severity),” he said.
The Celtics signed Hayward, 27, to a four-year, $127.8-million contract in the offseason.
Langeland, who has served as the doctor for the U.S. Ski Team, said he anticipated Hayward would have surgery within days to repair the bones using plates and screws, and may also require screws to stabilize the injured ligaments.
Asked if the injury puts Hayward at any greater risk of a repeat injury, the doctor said no.
“He should be back to normal,” Langeland said, adding that he will face a higher risk of arthritis many years down the road.
Without Hayward in the lineup, the Celtics lost, 102-99, to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Cleveland.