Since the wrist injury sustained while testing in Spain last month, it has been a frustrating few weeks for BMW Motorrad Italia’s James Toseland who had to sit out the last two rounds of the championship at Donington and Assen. However, the two-times WSBK champion is planning a return to action at Monza on 8 May and in an exclusive interview, tells BMW Motorrad about his fight to be fit
What exactly happened with your injury?
It happened during testing in Spain last month. The team and I wanted to try some new things with the RR in terms of development and we were also working closely with Pirelli on new tyre options. Things were going well; the bike had drastically improved as we knew it would but sadly I high-sided the bike towards the end of the final day and hit the tarmac really hard.
Was it a big crash?
Yes. I displaced the lunar bone in my wrist which is next to your scafoid. Initial scans in Spain suggested that the bone was only chipped slightly and that the damage wasn’t as bad as expected. I felt really luckily initially because I knew it was a big crash and to walk away with no broken bones was almost a miracle. But sadly the pain in my hand got worse overnight to the point where I rang a specialist back in the UK to get a second opinion. He advised me to fly straight home to see him for further checks as the symptoms I was describing suggested that something was wrong.
So what did he discover?
I explained everything to him and he took a few more scans from different angles and it turned out that the bones in my wrist had actually displaced and twisted, cutting the blood supply to my hand. My hand was actually starting to die, so it was a race against time for the surgeon to operate and save my hand. I could hardly believe it. He did a great job, as it was an extremely tricky procedure, so I feel really lucky. I wouldn’t like to think what could have happened if I hadn’t had this guy’s number in my phone!
What have you being doing in terms of rehabilitation?
There isn’t a lot you can do with an injury like this. My wrist needed to be completely isolated, so I couldn’t really train as sweating can be an issue in terms of infection. Physiotherapy wasn’t an option until the pins came out, so I have just been spending a lot of time in the hyper barrack chamber – around three hours a day – and basically just doing all I can do get my body to try and heal itself. I’ve done some low-intensity spinning on a training bike but other than that I’ve not been able to really do a lot.
I guess you can’t practise the piano either?
No, even my piano playing has come to a standstill! It’s actually amazing to see the muscle atrophy in my arm since the injury, I have probably lost 40% of the muscle mass in my forearm and the comparison between the two is really quite shocking. Still, I know that now the pins are out I will be able to train it back to its normal state quite quickly. The whole injury has been really frustrating and all I think about is that point where I can finally put my leathers back on and ride the BMW again. Just knowing that I can actually do that means the world to me and I’m truly thankful to everyone who has helped me through this injury.
When are you hoping to be back?
The pins in my wrist came out on 27 April and then all my rehab is planned for the seven days in the lead up to Monza World Superbikes. The plan is to try and get everything in the best possible condition to actually ride at Monza. At the moment nobody knows how much movement I am going to have or how I will feel but I will be doing all I can to be able to ride at Monza and then get back to 100% fitness for the following round in Salt Lake City.
Are you confident that things will be ok?
I have my trainer and physio ready to go and although it’s been a frustrating wait I am not going to push anything. Unfortunately, the injury was to my right wrist, which obviously controls the throttle and the brakes, and we all know that is something which is a necessity – especially at Monza with the high speeds and heavy braking. All we can do is wait and see how I feel on the bike. I know the team really want me back fit and I want the same, so hopefully we will have a bit of good luck and be in good shape for Monza.
How do you deal with injury in a positive way?
Obviously, in this sport injury comes with the job and we all expect that sooner or later we are going to be affected. In my career I have been injured a lot and many times much worse than this. When the surgeon looked me in the eye and told me that this was an extremely serious injury, I was very worried, but afterwards, when he said the operation had been a success I was relieved and happy just knowing I would recover. Obviously, waiting to recover does get frustrating but the thought of being back on the bike drives me on and keeps me focused on the ultimate goal. As for the day-to-day issues, I am lucky to have an automatic BMW X5 which meant I could drive around and not be confined to the house.
What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of the season?
I am not even thinking that far ahead at this stage. I just want to get back riding and then think about developing the RR to where we know it can be. Obviously I want to do the best I can; I know we have a great team and the potential to run with the factory team for sure. Our bike is improving all the time and when I get more comfortable on it we can really push and see what’s possible. I fully believe that next season with this team and this bike I can fight for the championship and if I didn’t think that I wouldn’t be here. I know the long and short-term goals of this team, and their ambition matches mine – and that’s exactly what you need. We will just have to see how the rest of the year turns out.