Dallas Cowboys All-Pro center Travis Frederick missed the entire 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease.
It was caught in the early stages, Frederick announced at the time, and he and doctors were hopeful he’d be able to resume his playing career after treatment.
In a story posted on Monday by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill, Frederick provided an update on how he discovered he has GBS, and how he’s doing now.
Tests ruled out other ailments, led to GBS diagnosis
The 31st overall pick in the 2013 draft, Frederick’s concerns began at the beginning of training camp last year. He had numbness in his toes and hands on the first day, but the real red flag was a sudden lack of strength and inability to lift relatively light weights.
But it wasn’t easy to get to the diagnosis of Guillain-Barré.
“I had never heard of [GBS]. Neither did most people, not even the doctors,” Frederick said. “The neurosurgeon had only seen it twice. He is one of the top neurosurgeons in the country. When you have something that rare, that’s when you know there is something going on. That is why it took a little bit for the diagnosis. It’s hard. There are a lot of things it could have been leading up to it. I give a lot of credit to our training staff. They kept on it. They kept trying to figure something out.”
The condition looks like many other things, Frederick said — multiple sclerosis, polio, West Nile virus. Doctors used a process of elimination approach, as each test for those came up negative.
“It’s a combination of the symptoms and ruling out all of those things. The one that tells it mostly is a combination of a brain scan and a spinal tap. You take some of the fluid and find out what is going on,” he said.
‘I feel good’
Frederick is with the Cowboys as they opened their offseason program last week, and said he’s feeling good about his progress.
“I feel good about where I am at. It’s hard to judge percentage where you are because the only thing we have to judge off of is strength numbers,” he said. “We haven’t been able to get to the strength numbers because I am not benching. I don’t have a bench standard and I am not squatting. I am rebounding from hernia surgery as well so I am still easing back in after that.”
In addition to hernia surgery, Frederick also underwent shoulder surgery. He isn’t much limited on-field like he is in the weight room.
‘Everything’s been on schedule’
Frederick admitted that he’s had moments where he thought his football career was over, particularly since it sounds like he got worse before he started getting better.
“That thought crosses your mind. That thought crosses your mind certainly at diagnosis and again when it was declining to the point where I was having a hard time walking,” he said. “Those things definitely happened. But once the improvement started and it happened at such an impressive rate it makes you think, ‘OK, maybe there is a chance here, and if it continues at this rate, I don’t see any reason why I can’t be back to 100 percent.’”
He’s progressed enough that he’s thinking about training camp and being on the field in 2019.
“I feel confident in my ability to do it. But we really won’t know until I get out and do it again. I feel good in everything that I’m doing, and everything’s been on schedule or ahead of schedule. So I feel good. I’m excited to get back out there,” Frederick said.
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