Words & Photos by Carl Dickson
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. 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.
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 in this. 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.