Ant is recovering well
The start of December's testing ban saw most team members rushing off to enjoy their holidays.
For Anthony West, however, there was to be no rest or relaxation until he'd been put under the surgeon's knife: hardly a traditional start to the
festive season but his wrist needed fixing.
“The original damage was caused when I crashed at the first corner in Phillip Island in 2002”, explains Ant from his recuperation couch in Germany. “The telemetry on the bike confirmed I had been doing 267kph at the time… I broke my left wrist pretty badly: it looked like an S-bend.”
The break was hastily plastered up and, with obedience uncharacteristic when it comes to medical matters, Ant did as he was told and didn't take it off early and continue racing.
“Normally, I just remove plaster casts and carry on but it was a bad break and it was nearly the end of the season, so it stayed on for six weeks.”
However, once it was removed, the wrist was still severely misshapen and the muscles and ligaments had shortened. “So I had to have surgery to get it sorted out”, continues Ant. “And the doctors put a plate, four screws and a bit of wire in to it, which have been there ever since.”
He maintains it hasn't affected his riding but the man in charge of his recovery, physio guru, Uli Amberger, reckons strength in his wrist and left forearm will have suffered, hence getting the ironmongery removed now. Furthermore, leaving it in would potentially cause Ant considerable problems were he to break the joint again.
“The operation went really well”, says Amberger, “There's been hardly any swelling and, from a physiotherapy point of view, that means we can get on with treatment straight away.”
Ant being Ant, he is more interested in the gory details. “It was really weird”, he smiles.
“It was done under a local anaesthetic so, while I didn't feel any pain, there was a strange sensation of something going on. Playing around with your own arm but not being able to feel it was definitely… odd.”
Now on the road to recovery, Ant is proving the model patient.
“Yes, he's very good”, states Amberger approvingly. As a man who, in the past, has cared for the wellbeing of numerous Kawasaki riders, including Andrew Pitt, Chris Walker and Alex Hofmann, he knows what he's talking about. “We're just at the stage whereby we're starting to get Anthony to move the joint gently in all directions: working on mobility and strength. And the earlier shortening of the ligaments means his forearm extension isn't perfect so we're dealing with that, too.”
What's more, he reckons Ant will be back on a bike within just three weeks. The rider himself sounds pretty satisfied with the whole affair, too: “My wrist hardly hurts at all”, he concludes, “the hospital was great, more like a hotel, the food wasn't too bad and nor, frankly, were the nurses.”