Patriots linebacker will go home Friday

Updated: February 18, 2005, 1:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- Details in an emergency call to police by his wife were an early indication that New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a mild stroke.

Based on the fact that he's walking and talking, in a 31-year-old, it sounds like he could be able to play [football again]. ... But things could change quickly. If he happens to have some numbness that persists, that may affect his playing.
Dr. David Liebeskind, associate neurology director of the UCLA Stroke Center in L.A.

Bruschi, 31, a mainstay for three Super Bowl championships and one of the most popular Patriots, has been hospitalized since Wednesday after experiencing temporary numbness, blurred vision and headaches. The team said Thursday he was doing well after the stroke.

According to a Patriots spokesman, Bruschi is expected to be released from Massachusetts General Hospital around 4 p.m. ET Friday.

"It has been determined that these symptoms were the results of a mild stroke," team spokesman Stacey James said. "Tedy is in good condition and, as always, his spirits are high. He is walking and talking normally and stressed that he would like to thank everyone for keeping him and his family in their thoughts and prayers."

In a phone call by Bruschi's wife, Heidi, to 911 on Wednesday, she said: "He's having blurred vision, numbness on the right side of his body." He then was admitted to Mass General.

"The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and the Bruschi family is very appreciative," James said.

An estimated 700,000 people per year in the United States suffer strokes. While broken blood vessels can cause them, a vast majority result from clots that block the brain's arteries.

Dr. David Liebeskind, associate neurology director of the UCLA Stroke Center in Los Angeles, said Bruschi's reported state of health indicated he had a good chance of recovery -- and could possibly resume his playing career.

"Based on the fact that he's walking and talking, in a 31-year-old, it sounds like he could be able to play" football again, Liebeskind told The Associated Press. "A lot of people who have strokes while young tend to have no effects later. ... But things could change quickly. If he happens to have some numbness that persists, that may affect his playing."

Liebeskind emphasized that a battery of tests performed while Bruschi was hospitalized will determine the actual diagnosis.

Brian Mullen of the NHL's New York Islanders attempted a comeback two years after suffering a mild stroke and undergoing surgery to correct the heart problem that caused it in 1993. He had a seizure during his training and retired when no team would take a chance on him.

Houston Astros pitcher J.R. Richard, one of the most dominant right-handers of the late 1970s, had his career cut short when he suffered a blockage-caused stroke in 1980 at age 30. His comeback attempt was also unsuccessful.

Unlike heart attacks, strokes usually cause no pain, so the warning signs often are missed by victims and people around them. Symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness, dimness or loss of vision, difficulty or inability to speak and severe headaches.

A nine-year NFL veteran, the versatile Bruschi has been a star of the defense that helped the Patriots win three of the past four Super Bowls, including a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 6 in which he had an interception.

Bruschi was selected as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week three times, including the first-round playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. A second team Associated Press All-Pro selection, he ranked second on the team with 128 tackles and tied for second with three interceptions.

He also had two fumble recoveries in the 20-3 playoff win over the Colts.

On Sunday, Bruschi played in his first Pro Bowl.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.