Cleveland doctor says no to Davis surgery

May 04, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA — ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baltimore Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis made another stop Thursday on what is becoming a nationwide neurological fact-finding tour. He visited a specialist in Cleveland and got another dose of encouraging news.

Dr. Aza Wilbourn, a neurologist, administered more tests to determine the seriousness of the nerve injury that Davis suffered early in spring training. The results apparently confirmed the original diagnosis (damage to the spinal accessory nerve), and Wilbourn concurred with the three Cornell University Hospital specialists who told Davis that surgery would not be necessary to correct the problem.

"He had a lot of positive things to say," Davis said. "He said I just have a mild stretch, which is not as serious as the first interpretation."

The first interpretation came from Johns Hopkins Hospital neurologist Dr. James Campbell, who diagnosed the problem and recommended surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve, which was causing muscle atrophy in Davis' right shoulder.

Campbell is one of the foremost authorities on this type of injury, but the Orioles and Davis decided to seek a consensus from a number of specialists.

He also will visit Los Angeles back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins while the Orioles are in Southern California, but he said the

feedback he got in Cleveland made him more confident that he would make a full recovery and return to the Orioles lineup this year.

"He said that it's coming along well and he was surprised at the progress," Davis said. "He said it's healing very rapidly."

Wilbourn apparently drew that conclusion by comparing the results of Thursday's tests with results from similar tests done in Baltimore and New York. Though his conclusions back up those of the three doctors who examined Davis at Cornell University Hospital, he did not recommend a timetable for Davis to resume his baseball career.

The Orioles announced earlier this week that Davis might be able to begin batting practice in as few as two weeks.

"He [Wilbourn] said it will heal, and I should get all of my muscle strength and definition back," Davis said.

In the meantime, Davis is trying to stay in shape. He was in uniform yesterday and has been placed on a restricted workout regimen.

Davis said he is relieved that the majority of the doctors have ruled out surgery as the preferred course of treatment, but at the news conference Tuesday, team orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein left open the possibility that surgery might be indicated if the muscle weakening persists.

Silberstein is coordinating Davis' medical itinerary and has been in communication with all the doctors involved, but the team has made no official announcement on this latest examination.

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