British Superbike and international racer James Ellison was involved in a rather nasty get-off while riding at Thruxton which ended with Ellison incurring a compound fracture of his right femur, among many other ‘ooches’. It is the worst injury he has ever experienced in his 16 year long career in motorcycle racing. Once the extent of his injuries was understood, it seemed as if he might be out for 6 months while he healed, recovered and rehabbed. However, due to the fact that many other high-profile athletes have been likewise injured, sport-related medical care has advanced significantly in recent years. Ellison was able to make use of that expanded knowledge to reduce his healing time from months to weeks! What makes this (apparent) miracle possible? It is the (very well-known to Michael Jackson fans) incredible and indelible hyperbaric chamber.
A hyperbaric chamber quickly delivers highly-concentrated oxygen to injured areas of the body. The pressures involved change the behavior of oxygen by dissolving it into the local plasma and this accelerates the cellular respiration process. A substantial increase in tissue oxygenation results, which stimulates new blood vessel growth and leads to enhanced wound healing. It is a very beneficial procedure for any athlete, but more so for a racer who needs to get back into action to save his or her ride.
One of the best facilities for this is on the Isle of Man, which makes it rather close for most European racers. But, it is still an expensive stay away from home while treatment is administered in a clinical setting. The chamber itself may be covered by the rider’s insurance (or it may not), but the travel, meals, hotel accommodations and the rest of daily living expenses come out of the patient’s pocket. Not all racers make the money of a Valentino Rossi or Casey Stoner, nor do they usually bring home money while they are not racing – there are often no long-term sponsorship deals for riders at this level. And add to this the pressure of losing your job if you cannot get back to the track as soon as possible; after all, race teams pay for results. The chamber becomes simple occupational necessity.
Enter the experience of Sarah Ellison, wife of the aforementioned James, and her strong desire to make sure that anyone involved in the motorcycle racing sport can take advantage of this incredible recovery tool. Thus began Heal the Riders, which Ellison started after her experience with her husband’s serious injury earlier this year. The organization will raise money to support any racer who is seriously injured in the line of duty and who cannot afford the expenses involved. The money will go towards providing accommodations on the Isle of Man (thanks to the new Joey Dunlop House) and transport to and from the hyperbaric chamber.
For more information, take your choice of Sarah Ellison’s Facebook page (here) or the home page of the hyperbaric chamber itself (here) to add your name and your donation. It doesn’t take much to help Heal the Riders.