Top level racing is not without risks and our resident British racing blogger, Reece Bell, knows the dangers all too well after a crash in Canada tore her ACL...
Sorry it’s been a while, but on January 4th I crashed during a dual slalom in Ontario, Canada. I tore my ACL and meniscus in my left leg. On January 14th I flew back to Vail for surgery and started my road to recovery thanks to Dr. Hackett at the Steadman Clinic. The experience made me reflect on my experience in racing so far.
Since I began racing FIS, I have yet to complete a full season due to two major injuries (the ACL, torn labrum and shoulder dislocation) and one minor injury (broken thumb). However, I am happy to report that I am on the road to recovery.
Traditionally, the return to snow for ACL has been six months but new research shows that 40% of athletes re-injure themselves if they head back to snow too quickly. My father Martin and Uncle Graham also tore their ACLs during their ski race careers. Many ACL repairs these days include platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP). Dr. Hackett told me that this procedure would be painful and indeed it was. I had a nerve block for a few days post-op.
Technology has changed since Martin and Graham's day. When they were healing, they each had to be in a straight leg plaster for six weeks with no movement whatsoever. The night after my surgery, while still in the hospital, I was put in a hinged brace for a few hours and my leg was in a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. As the name suggests, the machine moves your knee for you. However, you cannot keep your leg in it all the time. When I was not on the CPM, I was in a straight leg brace or icing my knee with a cold therapy unit. Within a week I was able to get my leg to 90 degrees in the CPM.