Josh Bryceland Injury update 2015
The elation that followed Ratboy’s World Cup overall win was soon brought into tight focus when he sent that bridge in Hafjell to flat and ended up with one hell of a complicated injury. What looked like just a slipped pedal turned out to be a Lis Francs fracture, all very messy and it took some serious metalwork to hold his left foot in the shape he was born with. We interviewed Josh a few months back when he was starting his rehab with Harris & Ross up near Manchester and if you need a refresher of exactly what went on then you can find that here.
Since then Ratty has been with the team at Harris & Ross almost daily and he’s been progressing steadily, Carl Dickson has been working with Josh and he’s beamed over this update to let you all know what’s happening with the Rat.
Words & Photos: Carl Dickson – Harris & Ross
Working with RatBoy. Where to begin? The journey for Ratty to get from Norway to our facility in Manchester started the second that Josh hurt himself. Both myself and Darren “Conehead” Roberts were watching the World Championships texting each other predictions and ongoing commentary. With Ratty coming down the hill last it was all on this ride. All eyes were pointed towards the top of the hill, the big screens or the television feeds around the world. Can the World Cup winner for 2014 take the double? It’s what I particularly enjoy about the Worlds, everything rests on just one run, no matter how consistent or well you have performed throughout the year, this one run can write you into the history books along with it all the hype of wearing the rainbow jersey. It always provides a huge roller coaster of emotions. I can only start to imagine how Neko Mulally must have felt when his chain snapped powering out the gate, that feeling following all the way to the bottom of the hill to then sit on the podium and finally finish in 4th! The myriad of emotions of “what could have been” to “I came 4th with no chain!”
So with RatBoy coming down the hill as well as he did I, like most people, started to hold my breath. It was looking like that lad from south Manchester was going to do the double in the same year that he had taken his first step onto the top of a World Cup podium.
As he came into the finish area it was clear how much pain he was in and obviously pretty seriously injured
One of our team Physiotherapists, Laura Robson, was already out at the race with the Atherton Racing set up, as she had been for the whole season, so messages were sent to her to see if she could assist in any way but the medical team on site did a great job looking after him and made sure that he had everything he needed. Further to that Will Longden, the Team GB manager was very quick to make contact with us here at Harris & Ross Perform to make sure that there would be provision for Ratty when he came home. Added into that were Kathy Sessler, Syndicate team manager and Peaty who also wanted to make their rider and his team mate would have every opportunity to make the best recovery possible. What I am getting to is that Ratty is kind of a big deal, people know him and they were all straight into action to get the lad fixed. This is great so long as there is some direction and everyone isn’t pulling in their own directions.
On his return from Norway Ratty came to see us and we arranged a consultation with a specialist foot and ankle surgeon that we work with, Mr Rob Smith. Along side this, Ratty was also assessed by Doug Jones, our Clinical Director. Mr Smith was very complementary of the work that the surgeons had done in Norway. This was a huge relief as a mid foot fracture, also known as a Lisfranc injury extremely serious. For a premiership rugby player, potentially career ending! With a clearer understanding of the extent of the injuries, the team then put together a plan for the next twelve weeks that would keep Ratty off his foot. This had to keep the rest of his body in check without losing too much fitness or strength as well as actually enjoying his off season and being away from the pressures of racing, not that I am convinced Ratty feels pressure the same way the rest of us do!
Speaking of pressure, being handed the athlete folder in the team meeting and being informed that you are point of contact for the current World Cup Champion and that his progress and rehab is largely under your control, has a fair bit. That was a big jump for me and being in the gym so much unable to ride was a big jump for Ratty. I’m sure that Ratty will be the first to say that this led to some tough times with what must have seemed like a very long road to travel.
Receiving photos like this from him at 2am as he blew off steam really helped keep my mind at ease. Self doubt certainly plays a huge role in what ever you do with this kind of athlete. More particularly you start to ask questions like “have I been specific enough with the advice I have given?” or “have I been open enough to the needs of the athlete?”, “is there more I could be doing?”, “how the hell do I make sure he stays off his foot for 12 weeks to let it heal up?”.
After the very long 12 weeks of non weight bearing we eventually made it to the major milestone, the point that Mr Smith was happy to take the metalwork out of his foot. The date was set for early December. Understandably, Ratty couldn’t wait for the day to roll around. While Mr Smith was happy to take the metal out, we as a team, had a few sleepless nights that week! Asking ourselves things like “what if the fixations haven’t worked” “will he be able to return to racing” etc etc. Steel City Media and I were joining Ratty for his trip under so went through the whole process with him of arriving at the hospital, going to the theatre, all the way through surgery and back to recovery. I have found that being present at these sorts of milestones and in particular, in the actual surgery, that you learn more about the injury and the potential for rehabilitation than you ever can from looking at scans and x-rays. It also seems to reinforce the trust that the athletes put in you to help them back to fitness from what is a often, a career threatening injury. Fortunately for us all, Mr Smith was very happy with how the Rat Paw was looking. The story on the ward after the operation was slightly different with Dan Atherton having had a screw removed and one of our Motocross athletes James Cottrell having screws put into his ankle all by the same surgeon the same evening. The ward involved a very drugged up pair of mountain bikers shouting across the corridor at each other with a High Performance/Rehabilitation Coach getting shouted at by the ward nurse for not keeping them quiet. I still have to say sorry every time I go on the ward!
As soon as we were allowed to crack on with rehabilitation we were straight into it. I was keen to start Ratty going forwards again as soon as possible and I got the sense from him that I wasn’t alone. Christmas soon came and went and marked the start of the “Get Ratty back on the bike” plan. This is a pretty involved plan that sees Ratty training with us in clinic five times per week including relearning to walk on the Alter-G, Physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Strength and Conditioning and Massage. It also includes “on bike physiotherapy”. The first Monday of the year, myself, Doug and Ratty went out to test what he could and couldn’t do on the bike and to give him a plan of exactly what we needed him to be working on, on the bike, in his own time. This was a great day and left the three of us buzzing about the progress that was being made and the potential that we have to work with. What better way to start the year, out on the bikes, seeing the Rat back doing what he does best and not being in a gym or clinic.
To date, we have all been encouraged by the pace with which Ratty continues to improve, but as with any major injury there are hours, days, weeks with ups and downs and what must seem like set backs. These are just a natural part of any road to recovery but Ratty always manages to turn things positive again with his attitude to everything that is asked of him and the way he uses the information in front of him as motivation to get back on his bike. Do I watch the videos on instagram and facebook holding my breath every time he tries something new? Without question. Do I think that Ratty has developed a better understanding of what he is, and is not ready for yet and capable of? Whole heartedly. Will this help to take him back to where he was…time can only tell.