Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love Injury Discussion: NBA Finals Edition

Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Forward Kevin Love had a collision with Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals last Friday. Since Friday, he has been in the NBA’s Concussion protocol for the last six days. It remains to be seen if Kevin Love will be cleared for Thursday’s game.

From the NBA’s media central website, here’s a closer look at what the NBA’s Return-to-Participation protocol consists of:

  1.  The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion – from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
  2. With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
  3. It’s important to note that there is no time frame to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers

Concussions fall under the category of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Concussions can occur with or without skull fractures, intracranial hematoma, or be classified as a contusion. Neck pain and neck injuries can often be associated with concussions.

Anatomy Review:

To preface, a small short paragraph won’t do enough justice to the anatomy of a concussion. When we are talking about concussions. There are a lot of different structures to exam and look at.

  • Brain – visualized through a CT Scan or an MRI
  • Skull – visualized through a CT Scan or an MRI
  • Cervical Spine – visualized through an X-ray

Furthermore when during your evaluation of a concussion you have to exam the patient’s vision, hearing, talking, limb control and limb sensation.


There’s a lot of anatomy to unpack in concussions. So I hope the brief anatomy overview that is looked at in concussions helps and makes you understand why it is so important to really take your time in bringing someone back from a concussion.

Rehabilitation Outlook:

The treatment for concussions is very length because it is not straight forward. I would be doing a disservice by creating a small little paragraph of what treatment is like for concussion patients, especially those who have suffered multiple concussions. But some of the components of his rehabilitation are going to be as followed:

  • elimination of sensitivity to light, sound, flashes, fast-paced neck movement
  • elimination of headaches, neck pain, upper back pain
  • elimination of any symptoms prior to starting exercise rehabilitation program
  • light aerobic work
  • sports specific exercise work
  • non-contact drills
  • full contact drills
  • return to competition.

If any any point he has any symptoms he has to go back to the previous step and be re-evaluated. Especially for Love, since this isn’t his first concussion suffered. While the guideline is so vague, it’s really hard to say there is a set treatment plan for concussions because they are all very different and potentially presenting with different symptoms in each case.


My Take:

I don’t believe he is going to play in Game 1. He’ll play in the series. He just may not play Game 1 depending on if he clears the concussion protocol on Thursday prior to the start of the game and shoot around.

This is a comparatively small and short post to what concussions are and their rehabilitation entails. There’s a reason it takes time to review from a concussion no matter how “small” the impact one. There’s no such thing as a mild “head injury.” Kevin Love, I believe, will play. It was encouraging to see him with his teammates at the Easter Conference Finals celebration but he was not courtside to watch the game because of sounds, lights, and moving people.

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