Stacy Sykora improving after bus crash

SAO PAULO -- U.S. Olympic volleyball player Stacy Sykora is eating without the aid of a feeding tube and has taken her first walk around the hospital since seriously injuring her head in a bus crash last week in Brazil.

Sykora was able to get out of bed and walk briefly with the help of nurses Monday, but doctors said she would remain in an intensive care unit for a few more days.

Sykora's Volei Futuro team released a statement saying the libero's condition had "improved significantly," allowing doctors to remove the tube so she could start eating and drinking on her own.

Doctors had said Sunday they were optimistic about Sykora's recovery but that it was uncertain whether the 33-year-old would be able to play professionally again. She was a member of the team that won the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, her third Olympics.

Sykora, of Burleson, Texas, hit her head when the bus carrying her team to a match crashed in the rain just outside Sao Paulo last Tuesday.

She passed out briefly but otherwise seemed fine after the crash, but exams eventually showed she had serious injuries. She was in critical condition when she was transferred to the Sirio Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo, having difficulty breathing and with bleeding and swelling on the left side of her brain.

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

The Brazilian league's semifinal match, which was to be played the day of the crash, was rescheduled for Wednesday.

Sykora's sister, Keri, and her mother traveled to Sao Paulo to be with the player during her recovery.