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Injury Updates: Jimmy Button and Jamie Hacking

Chaparral Yamaha’s Jimmy Button received serious spinal cord injuries in a crash during practice for the San Diego Supercross on January 22, 2000 (see Motorcycle Daily articles dated February 18, January 28, and January 22). The following is an open letter from Jimmy’s mother Anita to the public dated March 23 with the latest information on Jimmy’s recovery.

For the latest: It looks like Jimmy will be coming home in about two weeks. They are going to transfer him to outpatient, which is great news. However, the facility that he is at right now doesn’t have a contract with Blue Cross for outpatient therapy. How stupid is that? Of course, no one told us that when we decided to go to this hospital. As some of you know, we wanted to go to Barrows, but the insurance didn’t have a contract with them for inpatient therapy. Well, guess what? We can now go to Barrows for outpatient therapy. Go figure. So now he has to change therapists, which he really doesn’t want to do. I’m not real hip with starting over, but then, I’m thinking that maybe that’s a better place because they work with so many spinal cord injury patients.

Now for the progress: He now walks unassisted with a short walker. He can feed himself and pick up drinks with his left hand — which is pretty good since he is right-handed. He can use regular silverware — both spoon and fork. [He] hasn’t quite mastered a knife yet — needs his right hand to get a little better. He can sit on the edge of the bed and swings his legs up and into the bed. [He] can also do the same thing to get out of bed. He can lift himself up from the bed, or his wheelchair, to a standing position on his own, as long as someone is guiding him. He doesn’t need to be lifted, but he can’t look down because of the halo, so we just kind of guide him in the direction he needs to go. The right side is getting better, but it seems to be several weeks behind the left side. This past week he got more feeling in the left foot and leg; it’s still not normal feeling, but it’s better feeling than he had. The left index finger now has normal feeling, so we hope it just continues coming back.

Sometime the week of April 17th they will be taking the halo off and putting him in a neck brace for three to four weeks. Then they will do the flex/extension test to determine if his neck needs to be fused. The doctors are now saying that because the neck has been in the halo so long they won’t be able to get a good test when he first comes out of the halo. He might not need the halo if they do surgery; it’s possible he might be able to get by with just a neck brace. It would really make everything easier without the halo. He could start water therapy, take a shower easier, and see more of his feet, which would make walking easier.

Right now he is using an electric wheelchair, but he will be changed to a manual chair before he goes home. His arms are getting stronger, and we have no way to transport an electric chair. Hopefully he won’t need a chair for very long, but until he can use the walker without getting too tired, he will need a chair. So now I’m working with the insurance company to get some things at home we need before he comes home. Of course, the insurance company classifies most items as a convenience [rather than] a necessity, so it continues to be a struggle. But I’ll not stop until I get what we need — like a shower chair, higher toilet, bed with rails, etc.

Thanks, everyone, for all your prayers; they are working.

Love,
Anita

What follows is a March 24, 2000 Press Release from Yamaha regarding Jamie Hacking and the progress of his recovery since his injury from a crash at the Daytona 600 Supersport race:

Jamie Hacking underwent successful surgery last night in San Francisco to repair a torn tendon in his left elbow. Hacking injured the elbow in a multi-bike crash while battling for the lead during the Daytona 600cc Supersport race.

Hacking’s surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, reattached the tendon and repaired some damaged muscle tissue. According to Larry Griffis, Yamaha Racing Division Manager, “The surgery was pretty straight forward, the main concern was actually cleaning out the remaining bits of rocks, dirt and leather that was still in the wound,” said Griffis.

Hacking’s prognosis is good, however he will be in a splint for several weeks and will later undergo physical therapy to regain strength in his arm. Hacking is optimistic that he will be ready for Sears Point, May 5-7. “I’m determined to get healed up and get it back to 100 percent, but I’m not going to rush it,” said Hacking. “I’m going to ride for sure. If it’s not 100 percent, I’ll just ride and try to get my points.”

Dr. Ting will check the incisions Monday and if everything looks good, Hacking will fly back home to North Carolina and begin therapy.