Toronto FC fullback Steven Beitashour hopes to leave concussion behind him

Beitashour still dealing with concussion

TORONTO — Walk past Steven Beitashour at Toronto FC’s training ground and the veteran fullback looks as always, a smile on display.

But Beitashour is still paying the price for a nasty ball to the head deep into stoppage time in the season opening 0-0 tie at Real Salt Lake on March 4. A clearance from RSL fullback Chris Wingert slammed into Beitashour’s temple from some five yards.

Beitashour didn’t go down and played out the final seconds. But he soon felt the effects.

“I got symptoms almost immediately, right when the final whistle blew,” said the 30-year-old from San Jose.

There was dizziness and a headache, not to mention blood in his mouth. His teammates were quick to see he wasn’t right. In the locker-room, he felt nausea.

“For anyone that’s had a concussion, it’s not fun,” he said.

The symptoms did not go away last week, forcing him to miss Saturday’s 0-0 tie in Philadelphia. 

“I’m feeling better … Hopefully each day gets better and then I’ll be able to play this weekend (against his former team in Vancouver),” Beitashour said Tuesday.

While Beitashour is a durable player — with 143 regular-season starts the last five years â€” it is not his first concussion. A knee to the back of the head in a previous game with Real Salt Lake took a toll.

The first was a harder blow. But the symptoms have been worse this time.

For Beitashour, the discomfort grew if he concentrated on something, like trying to read or checking his phone. The pressure he felt at the back of his head early last the week moved to the temple later in the week.

“And that’s just not fun,” he said. “It feels like someone is just squeezing your temple as hard as they can.”

There isn’t much other than rest to get better. But there are things that can make it worse.

“You really have to be careful. You have to tiptoe on a fine line of taking the right steps to get better obviously as quick as possible but without having major setbacks.”

Watching TV was tough the first couple of days but he was well enough to watch Saturday’s game in Philadelphia. As for training, he has ridden a stationary bike mostly.

“You don’t want to shake the brain too much,” he said. “Bike is probably the best thing, just to get a little bit of cardio without too much movement.” 

Beitashour ran laps Wednesday while the first team squad trained. Head coach Greg Vanney said he was due to undergo more tests later in the day.

If he passed the concussion protocol test, he would be available for the weekend game although with a bye week looming, he could be given the week off to give him more time off.

“Just because he’s good doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily take him, doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily play or start,” said Vanney. “We’re playing it by ear.”

And while Beitashour understands the reasons for all the medical hoops he has to jump through to get back on the field, his goal is simple.

“If you ask me, I want to play every game,” he said. “I wanted to play against Philly. I tried. Unfortunately I failed the neuro-psych (neuropsychological) test.”

The league has a standard concussion protocol with teams conducting baseline tests on their players.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press