Published originally Friday, December 01, 2006
Reigning MotoGP world champion Nick Hayden underwent surgery on his injured shoulder yesterday at Dr. Art Ting’s Northern California clinic. Ostensibly, Hayden’s surgery was to repair the damage done in his Estoril MotoGP crash—where he was taken out by his teammate, Dani Pedrosa—but the prep for the surgery revealed even more damage than that caused by the Estoril spill.
“I guess what I’d like to say is that Americans should really be proud of Nicky for the performance he put in at Valencia, because, my God, I was just stunned to see how badly his shoulder was damaged and realize that he raced on this and won the world championship,” said Ting’s Rehab Specialist, Tuan Nguyen today. “We looked at it and thought, my God, look at that gap!”
Ting’s clinic services virtually a who’s who in the racing world, and has done so for over 15 years. Previous racing clients include Eddie Lawson, Michael Doohan, Miguel DuHamel and many, many others.
“What we found was that Nicky’s broken collarbone from 2004 actually never healed,” continued Nguyen. “We did an MRI and then looked at it and there was a gap in the old break in his clavicle. The plate was holding it together, but there was a gap between the bones. We also found rotator cuff damage, a labrum tear, and a bone spur on his clavicle.”
Hayden had a 45-minute surgery yesterday and expects to be home in Kentucky by the end of the weekend.
Nguyen said it’s very uncommon for a plated clavicle not to heal fully. “Not common at all. He never complained. He never said anything about it. He was quiet the whole time.”
In the surgery, Hayden’s old broken clavicle was fixed, the new damage repaired, the bone spur ground down and all ligament damage fixed. Nguyen and Ting seem hopeful that Hayden will be able to resume testing duties by the end of the month, which coincides with the MotoGP testing ban currently in place.
“A January 21 return to riding is very reasonable,” said Nguyen
Hayden said today, “I was hoping that this would be just an in and out, fix the new damage and I’d be good, but I guess that wasn’t the case.”
Asked how the unhealed broken collarbone felt when muscling around a MotoGP bike for a great length of time, Hayden said, “It never felt great. I really rushed it that year to get back on the bike and I think that probably didn’t do anything to help it. I think I was riding ten days later.”
Hayden confided that the crash at Estoril wasn’t how the muscles in his shoulder were damaged—at least not the hitting the ground part of the incident. “I think the ligament damage was caused by just having the bike ripped out of my hands like it was. I mean, I was hit so hard and from behind sort of, that’s what did the soft tissue damage to my rotator cuff and labrum.”
Hayden said he knew the moment he got up in the gravel trap at Estoril that his shoulder was damaged, but he elected to keep quiet about it. “I did some ultrasound on it, because a day later I could not move it, but by the time I got to Valencia the adrenaline took over. Well, actually, on Friday morning in practice I was like ‘This is going to be tough’, but then the adrenaline kicked in and I was fine. I forgot about it when I rode after that, honestly. I’m glad I only had to race one race that weekend, though, I can tell you that.”
“Then, when we went to Sepang and went testing, and no adrenaline was flowing. Man it was really bad.”
“He’s a tough guy,” Nguyen reiterated. “All these Hayden boys are tough, Tommy and Roger Lee as well.”
“This will take a little longer to heal, but I feel I’ll regroup and will come back stronger now that it’s all fixed,” said Hayden.