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Hawks’ Johnson May Not Need Surgery

September 14, 2002

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ATLANTA (AP) _ Atlanta Hawks forward DerMarr Johnson might not need surgery on his broken neck, doctors said Saturday.

The 22-year-old Johnson, who broke his neck in a car crash early Friday, was moved to Shepherd Spinal Center, where doctors made the decision not to operate.

``Unless something changes, it appears as if surgery isn’t immediately necessary,″ team physician Michael Bernot said.

Johnson was in stable condition Saturday.

Doctors originally believed Johnson’s neck was broken once, but additional tests revealed two more fractures.

``If he has surgery, the process would include fusing the neck area,″ Bernot said. ``But if it’s determined that surgery isn’t required, there is a better chance that he can return to normal activity. However, it is way too soon to determine anything regarding his playing future.″

Johnson, expected to miss the upcoming season, will need between 4-to-6 months rehabilitation, whether he has surgery or not.

If Johnson has surgery, he could have more difficulty regaining mobility, Bernot said.

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