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Brain injury threatens Olympian's career

Residents of Atlanta recall fondly the honor and excitement the 1996 Olympics brought to our city. Many longtime fans of the Olympics got to see the events in person for the first time, and many new fans were born. Followers of this international event may find interesting a recent story detailing how a brain injury is threatening the career of one U.S. Olympian.

Stacy Sykora competed as a member of the United States women's volleyball team in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, helping the team to win a silver medal win in 2008. However, in April 2011, Sykora was in a bus accident in Brazil. She lost consciousness briefly after the accident and had a small cut on her head.

Luckily she was taken to the hospital as a precaution, because her condition got progressively worse on the ambulance trip. By the time she arrived it was found that she had suffered bleeding and swelling on the left side of her brain. Due to the severity of the brain injury, she was put into a medically induced coma.

Once she was in a condition to do so, Sykora returned to the United States and began exhaustive rehabilitation with physical therapists and trainers. While she does not have permanent blindness, she continues to have vision problems that affect her performance in her sport and jeopardize her career. She reports that she has come a long way and notes that one can't push recovery with a brain injury. "You have to wait for the brain," she says.

She returned to her Brazilian volleyball team earlier this year but admits she has had to change the way she plays due to the brain injury. She continues the recovery process, including the rehabilitation regime six days a week. She also has returned to the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team training, but it's unclear if she'll be selected to go to London this year.

Brain injuries are unfortunately common in motor vehicle accidents and their symptoms can impact anyone's ability to work. Victims of brain injuries can incur numerous costs including medical expenses, long term care expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other costs associated with their recovery. They are entitled to be compensated if another person is at fault in causing their injury.

Source: ESPN, "Olympian Stacy Sykora works to beat brain injury," The Associated Press, June 1, 2012

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