After his nightmare experience of being left pretty much alone in Doha with a broken leg once the MotoGP circus was over and suffering from complications after surgery, Alvaro Bautista is determined to do something about it. “I will talk to the riders and bring it up in the Safety Commission so that it won’t happen again”, he professed to La Gaceta.
As Dr. Angel Villamor implied earlier in his press conference directly after Álvaro had finally made it back to Madrid, the website magazine insists again that a less invasive procedure than which was carried out in Doha would have possibly allowed him to even be back as early as Jerez. But the lack of a medical plane to fly him back to Spain immediately forced the Spaniard to stay in Qatar to undergo the conventional procedure while his regular doctor was in contact with the surgery team on location to help advice them on Álvaro’s treatment.
Villamor had already brought up the topic of medical planes needing to be immediately available at all GPs in this initial press conference and reinforced it in an interview with TVE as well as on his personal Blog.
Giving the examples of Álvaro in Qatar and Fonsi Nieto in Indianapolis last year [Nieto shattered his foot in qualifying and after surgery suffered extreme pain (caused by a drainage problem) for which he was given stronger painkillers. He had an adverse reaction to them and went to respiratory arrest for forty seconds. Nieto subsequently announced his retirement this year due to the still lingering consequences of that injury] Villamor argues that once the MotoGP race is over on Sunday, the injured riders remain behind pretty much alone, feeling abandoned and often not exactly knowing when they can come back home. Communication problems between Clinica Mobile, local hospitals and the rider’s personal doctors back home can also prolong procedures and the recovery process while the rider’s main goal naturally is to get back to racing as soon as possible. To facilitate this, Villamor and Alvaro plead for a better availability of medical planes during GP weekends, to fly out injured riders as quickly as possible.
At the moment Alvaro is in the difficult process of recovering from the fracture and the complications that arose during the first operation [fearing an acute compartment syndrome the doctors opened a 30cm incision over the length of his thigh which was left open for several days, he suffered from internal bleeding in the thigh and needed a blood transfusion to bring his critically low haemoglobin levels up again].
To speed up the process of healing of the bone, the Rizla Suzuki rider has a session of about 40 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber every day. “Other athletes, for example Nadal and a large portion of the Formula 1 paddock, also use this”, he commented. MotoGP fans will remember Valentino Rossi famously using the chamber to great effect after breaking his leg last year, coming back incredibly early after such a tough injury and Randy De Puniet even topping that shortly after, also with the help of a hyperbaric chamber.
The effect of the chamber is similar to altitude training. It’s a sealed chamber with higher than normal pressure in which the patients breathe pure oxygen. According to the provider of the chamber in Madrid, this speeds up the recovery of tissue through the red blood cells and also helps against infection.
Every day Álvaro has to travel for three hours between Talavera and Madrid to see his doctor, his physiotherapist and use the hyperbaric chamber. “He needs to lie down in the car”, says his manager Armando Guerrero. Last Sunday Alvaro watched the Formula 1 race while training on the bike at home. And he’s not only doing the excercises on the programme prescribed by his doctor of confidence, Ángel Villamor, to make sure he can return for the Estoril race on May 1st.
“I thought I was going to have more free time, but I have many visitors at home”, Alvaro says. His girlfriend Noelia works in the morning, just when he is in Madrid, which is a blessing for him. “In the evening it’s ‘Get me this’ and ‘Bring me another’. When I take a shower I need her to help me”, he admits.
In short, he’s currently having a daily routine that is based on the recipe from Dr. Villamor “muscle stretching and resistance exercices” to increase flexibility and elasticity. He does that at the San José hospital in Madrid or in Talavera, where he also works in the pool (700 meters per session). And when he works on the stationary bike he needs to calm down the quadriceps muscle with heat or ice, at the beginning and the end. The one who is not calm at all is Alvaro, who only thinks about returning.
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