A few minutes with Bryan Namoff
D.C. United defender Bryan Namoff has been sidelined since September, the latest prominent MLS player to have his career interrupted by a head injury. After enduring pain, dizziness and blurred vision, making countless visits to specialists and being forced to shut down athletically, Namoff is progressing gradually and on course to play in his 10th season. When that will occur, however, remains unclear.
Where do things stand for you?
"I am a great watcher from the sideline right now. [laughing] I am on a day-to-day basis. As I progress in my training, I have to make sure the symptoms don't get worse. I have specific target levels for my heart rate, limit my activity, take rests, try not to go for a long duration of exercise. I am doing some stationary work with the ball and vision rehabilitation, strengthening my eyes and with focusing issues I had. I've made a lot of improvement there. It's just such a slow progression from this whole episode when I was first injured, so it's nice to finally make some strides, and although small, it's satisfying to see things improve."
At this point, can you put a timetable on a return?
"It's tough. Right now, I have to make sure I can get rid of these lingering symptoms and get over that hump. Once that happens, we'll really see the recovery speed up. And then it's an issue of getting the body into game shape. That will take strength training and long sessions, but something I have been looking forward to for six months now. After you have had inactivity for this long, it's nice to be back on the field and be integrated with the team again."
How do you describe your injury?
"There was the concussion and an upper cervical trauma that I sustained when I got hit. It was like a whiplashing sensation -- that is what we're focused on now. Once we are able to
eleviate alleviate some of these symptoms, which are down into the joints and ligaments in my neck, in between my vertebrae, getting that resolved will be a huge step forward."
You reached out to other players who have had head injuries?
"I talked to Alecko Eskandarian and Taylor Twellman, who have had a far worse time than I have had. My setback seems like such a long time, but those guys have really had a long-term trauma. I talked to Josh Gros too. It's just so difficult with this kind of injury because everyone is different, everyone reacts differently and everyone describes different symptoms. There is not a set case. Outside of soccer, I reached out to a baseball player, Corey Koskie, who had whiplash sensation for two years. [Koskie, a third baseman, had post-concussion syndrome following a fall chasing a pop-up during a game in 2006, never fully recovered and retired last year.] I was just researching online and I happened to find him. He had a Facebook account and my wife reached out to him. We made contact and got a chance to talk."
Did retirement ever cross your mind?
"No, because the neurologist I saw, who is the guy to go to, Dr. Robert Cantu in Boston, who has seen a lot of athletes. Everyone with this kind of injury has eventually seen him and he said, 'You are going to make a full recovery from this. You can finish your career.' He just told me to be patient and not to come back too early because that's when you can have more problems. So I am going to take it slowly and make sure I do it the right way."
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