BOSTON – New England Patriots (search) linebacker Tedy Bruschi was released from the hospital Friday, after spending two days recovering from a mild stroke that caused numbness, blurred vision and severe headaches.
He walked to a waiting sports utility vehicle without commenting to reporters outside Massachusetts General Hospital (search).
Bruschi was reportedly walking and talking normally a day after the stroke. Doctors said positive reports so soon after the stroke were good indicators that he could continue his football career, but his prognosis remains uncertain.
Bruschi, a nine-year veteran, is one of the team's most popular players and a key member of the defense that helped New England win three of the last four Super Bowls.
He was selected as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week three times last season, including after a first-round playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts (search). He ranked second on the team with 128 tackles and tied for second with three interceptions. On Sunday, Bruschi played in his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
His wife, Heidi, called 911 on Wednesday, saying Bruschi was experiencing "blurred vision, numbness on the right side of his body." The Patriots later confirmed that he had suffered a mild stroke.
Team spokesman Stacey James visited Bruschi at the hospital Friday to deliver hundreds of printed e-mails from well-wishers around the country.
"It has been determined that these symptoms were the results of a mild stroke," 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."
The Boston Globe, citing an unidentified team source, reported on its Web site Thursday that Bruschi had a broken blood vessel in his head and suffered from partial paralysis that has since gone away. A broken blood vessel can cause a stroke if it deprives the brain of oxygen.
"The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and the Bruschi family is very appreciative," James said.
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."
A nine-year NFL veteran, Bruschi is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense that helped the team win three of the past four Super Bowls, including a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 6.
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.
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 1970's, 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.