A top mountain biker has thanked a doctor for helping him get back in the saddle after two freak accidents which he feared would end his cycling days for good.
Matthew Booth suffered a broken shoulder and a fractured wrist in the separate incidents. Now he is amazed to be fit enough to race again after treatment by orthopaedic consultant Mr Raminder Singh and his team at Spire Yale Hospital, Wrexham.
He said: “Until meeting Mr Singh I never realised a doctor could be so supportive. What was doubly great was that Mr Singh is a cyclist himself so he completely understood where I was coming from and how important it was to me to achieve a full recovery.”
Matthew’s first accident happened in Scotland while he was on a practice run for a mountain bike race. His front wheel slammed into roots on the ground, forcing him over the handle bars of his bike and crash landing on his shoulder.
Although in pain, Matthew didn’t realise how seriously he was injured. He not only got back on his bike and continued with the practice session, but he also completed the next day’s race.
He said: “I drove home to North Wales and I even went to work as usual on the Monday but by the evening I began to understand how bad it was. I was in absolute agony and had to go to A&E. I was devastated to learn I’d broken my right shoulder blade. I really thought I’d never be able to ride again. It was a huge blow as cycling is my passion.”
Matthew, 36, of Brymbo, has been a keen amateur cyclist for nine years and raced competitively for the last three years. He rides for Chester based mountain bike enduro team ‘GlobalBike.co.uk’.
He travels all-round the UK on the mountain bike race circuit and was ranked 12th overall out of more than 100 competitors in the Welsh Enduro Series 2016 masters category.
He said: “I haven’t won any trophies yet but I don’t do too badly and I’m very pleased with my 12th position. But more than that cycling really gives me a buzz. It’s so much fun and energising, and fantastic for keeping up the fitness levels. I’d be heartbroken to have to give it all up.”
Matthew receives health insurance through his work as a machine shop manager with Hawarden Company Electroimpact UK. He said: “They recommended a number of specialist treatment options to me, one of which was at Spire Yale. I’d already heard of Mr Singh through a friend of mine who had a cycling accident and was hugely impressed with Mr. Singh and the Spire Yale team, so I chose to go there.”
Further scans ordered by Mr Singh revealed a second fracture much deeper in the shoulder. He recommended physio and also cortisone injections.
Matthew said: “It was quite a frightening scenario for me, as I naturally feared the worse, but throughout it Mr Singh was so reassuring. Not only was he medically proficient but he was emotionally supportive at a very worrying time. If ever I had any queries he responded immediately and throughout it all he gave me the confidence to believe in the possibility of a full recovery.”
Matthew was off his bike for eight months while his bones healed.
He said: “I was itching to ride again but I had to wait till my shoulder was strong enough. The waiting game was almost as painful as the shoulder itself!”
“I was out of the race series for most of the summer. But I still went along to events. I volunteered as a martial and helped out with organisational tasks just to keep my hand in. Then I was given the all clear to get riding again, which was Heaven.”
But disaster struck for a second time just a few months later.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Matthew. “It was almost an exact replica of the first accident. I was up in the North Wales Mountains when I hit some roots again, I went flying over the handle bars once more and landed with my arms out, yet again I carried on. I took painkillers but the next morning my wrist was really swollen and I ended up back in hospital having another X-ray.”
It showed Matthew had fractured his scaphoid, one of the small bones of the wrist, which most commonly breaks after a fall onto an outstretched hand, resulting in pain and extreme tenderness of the affected area.
He said: “I was referred to Spire Yale again and Mr Singh was as brilliant as ever. He completely reassured me that I’d still be able to ride and recommended a mix of physiotherapy, exercise and rest.
“Today I’m still quite careful with my shoulder and wrist and know not to push it too much but I’m looking forward to the 2017 mountain bike race series and enjoying the bike as much as ever. I can’t thank Mr Singh enough.”
Mr Singh specialises shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and nerve injury.
He said he is seeing an increasing number of cyclists as the leisure pursuit booms in popularity.
He said it has become the ‘new golf’ with many more people now taking to two wheels.
A member of Wrexham Cycling Club, he added: “I enjoy cycling myself and I cycled 11,000 kilometres last year taking part in about six challenges’ last year riding distances of up 120 miles at a time with climbs of up to 11,000ft in total in one day, so I know how uplifting and physically beneficial it can be in terms of boosting a person’s all round fitness.
“But naturally any sporting activity has its risks and so we do see an increasing number of cycling injuries. The important thing to know is that most of these can be effectively treated and do not mean a patient has to give up cycling for good.
“As with Matthew we can devise recovery regimes to specifically target a person’s injury and get them on the road again. I am always happy to talk to patients experiencing problems of this kind and help come up with viable solutions for them.”
Matthew rides full suspension mountain bikes and is out training at least twice a week, covering up to 30 miles of stamina sapping mountain trails in the height of the season.
He said: “We don’t do the distance that road riders and racers like Mr Singh do. They can go for 100-150 miles in one session, but our tracks are off-road, rugged terrain and mostly uphill, which can be strenuous, but I love it.”
Matthew’s wife, Katie, works in the clothing department at Tesco, Wrexham, and their son, Iwan, nine, has followed in his dad’s cycling tracks.
“Katie tried cycling but didn’t take to it. But Iwan – he’s fearless,” said Matthew. “We go out together and he’s getting really good on the bike for someone so young. It’s great exercise for kids it gives them fresh air and challenges that are a complete contrast to today’s computer age.”
Matthew’s ambition is to cycle in the famous Whistler mountain range in Canada.
He said: “That would be a dream come true – and hopefully it would be accident-free!”