Australian BMX dual Olympian Sam Willoughby is facing his greatest challenge – the ability to walk and ride again – after a shocking training accident in America.
Currently without movement from the chest down due to fractures and compression of the spine, Willoughby’s parents have thanked friends, supporters and fans of the world champion and Olympic silver medallist rider.
“We thank you for your patience in awaiting this more detailed update on Sam’s recent crash,” they said in a statement released through Cycling Australia.
“With the type of accident Sam had, there are a lot of unknowns that had to be addressed before the doctors could give us a better idea of the extent of Sam’s injuries.”
“On Sept 10, 2016, Sam had a training accident on the local Chula Vista BMX track where he was airlifted to the hospital and operated on that evening due to sustaining fractures in his C6 and C7 vertebrae which severely compressed his spinal cord and left him with no movement below his chest. The operation involved removing his C6 vertebrae, replacing it with a titanium cage, and fusing his C5-C7 vertebrae with a plate and 4 screws. Fortunately, this surgery was successful enough at decompressing his spinal cord and aligning his vertebrae that a second operation for further stabilization was not necessary.
“At this stage, Sam still has no movement from his chest down but has regained use of his arms and is slowly regaining some sensation in his legs. Sam’s next step is to begin a long road of recovery at a rehabilitation centre and while the details are still to be finalised, at this stage it is expected that Sam will be transported to a USA based rehabilitation centre in the next few days.
“The huge outpouring of support from friends, family, fans and supporters has been incredible and many of you have already asked how you can provide assistance to Sam in some way to ensure he has access to the best possible rehabilitation treatment.
As a result we have set up a portal where you can offer support, both through financial assistance and messages for Sam, and can also keep up to date with Sam’s progress. Any donation, great or small, and any message of support will assist in Sam remaining strong throughout his road to recovery.”
You can also express your support for Sam via the #StrengthFor91 hashtag.
Bicycling Australia sincerely wishes Sam Willoughby a full recovery and the very best through this difficult time. To show your support visit www.road2recovery.com/strengthfor91