BY GILES SPENCER email@example.com
Six-time British Superbike champion Shane “Shakey” Byrne has opened up on his horror crash – and admitted it is too soon to make a decision on whether his racing career is over.
The Lambeth rider, 41, suffered severe injuries including a broken neck and back, bruised lungs, fractured ribs and broken sternum and collarbone after coming off his bike at Snetterton in May.
Lambeth’s Byrne told Motorcycle News: “All things considered, I’m doing really well.
“I have to keep reminding myself of that when I get frustrated. I’m at home with my family and I can walk around which is pretty incredible when you realise the extent of my injuries.
“I hit the wall head first, my head was pushed back and that’s what did the damage to my neck. My spine opened up like a tin of beans.
“The surgeon told me he could fix it by putting all the broken vertebrae back together and attaching a titanium plate to bridge the gap so everything would heal perfectly, but with my spinal cord dangling about it was a risky procedure.
“He’d already said he was astonished I wasn’t paralysed but then sat me down and told me he couldn’t guarantee I’d come out of surgery without paralysis as he’d have to play with things in my back that aren’t supposed to be touched.”
It was Byrne’s wife Petra who decided not to have his broken neck bones fused together. That course of action would have greatly reduced movement in the area and ended his racing days.
“She said they shouldn’t take away any chance of me riding a bike again. The only alternative was to fit a halo and let it heal naturally.
“It’s not as simple as waiting for a fracture to heal like my collarbone, or ribs will.
“At the minute there’s part of my neck that’s in bits. The force from the crash shattered the bone. “It might heal and when I take the halo off I’ll be able to move my neck or the broken bones might fuse the neck in place.
“It’s a three-month waiting game. After that we’ll see if there’s any movement.
If there is, I’ll begin physio to build up strength.
“When I woke up from the op and realised I wasn’t paralysed I was so relieved. From that point I decided it didn’t matter what happened as I could be a dad and lead a normal life. If my neck moves at the end, great, if it doesn’t I know full well it could have been much worse.
“Do I want to ride again? Of course. I’m already in the hyperbaric [oxygen] chamber trying to heal faster.
But I won’t be coming back until everything’s perfect and ultimately it might never happen.
“The only thing I wanted from racing was to be world champion.
“Even if I come back fit and healthy as ever, I know I’m now not going to get an opportunity to do that.
“After having a crash where you’re told you might be paralysed, it puts things into perspective.
“Do I really care if someone beats my 85 BSB wins or six titles? Not really. There’s no-one close, so it’ll stand for a good while.”
The next round of the British Superbike Championship takes place at Knockhill in Scotland on July 6-8.
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