Olympian Improving From Head Injury in Brazil

Doctors say there are no signs that Burleson athlete will have brain damage

By Tales Azzoni
|  Sunday, Apr 17, 2011  |  Updated 4:59 PM CDT
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Olympian Recovering from Head Injury

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A Brazilian hospital says Stacy Sykora's condition has improved.

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U.S. Olympic volleyball player Stacy Sykora is recovering well from the head injury she sustained in a bus crash in Brazil, but doctors say it is too soon to know whether she will be able to play professionally again.

There are no signs Sykora will have brain damage, and will likely recover full movement and have no speech impairments, doctors said, while adding that it will take time to determine whether she will be able to play at a high level again.

"It will depend on the recovery process," Dr. Manoel Jacobsen said Sunday during a news conference at Sirio Libanes hospital.

He said the 33-year-old Sykora had improved considerably since being admitted Tuesday after hitting her head when the bus carrying her Brazilian team crashed on its way to a match just outside Sao Paulo.

Sykora was in critical condition when she arrived, having difficulty breathing and with bleeding and swelling on the left side of her brain. Teammates initially thought her injury was not serious because Sykora looked fine despite passing out briefly and sustaining a cut on her face.

Jacobsen said Sykora is not sedated but is expected to remain in intensive care for a few more days. He said a full recovery is likely because she is an athlete and because of her age.

Sykora, of Burleson, was a member of the team that won the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. She also participated in two other Olympics.

Her sister Keri arrived in Sao Paulo on Saturday and said Sykora is talking to doctors and relatives. Her mother also came to Brazil.

The bus driver for the Volei Futuro team apparently lost control in the rain and the vehicle overturned a few yards from the gym where the team was to play a semifinal match in the Brazilian league.

Several other players had cuts and bruises, but Sykora's injury was the most serious and she was the only person who had to stay in hospital.


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