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Femur Breaks Are Not What They Used To Be

Suzuki‚Äôs Alvaro Bautista plans to make a remarkable return to racing this weekend at Estoril in Portugal — just 42 days after breaking his femur while practicing for the opening round at Qatar. The MotoGP rider has been undergoing extensive therapy, including numerous trips to a hyperbaric chamber.

I remember when a rider would miss a minimum of six months if he broke his femur. This was true even if he had the femur supported by a steel rod during surgery. Sometimes, a femur break ended your career.

I know that physical therapy techniques, and the use of a hyperbaric chamber, have accelerated the healing process, but it is still difficult to believe that Bautista can race this soon. Suzuki plans to have Nobuatsu Aoki on hand to take over for Bautista if he falters this weekend.


  1. Skadamo says:

    Femur break, been there. Sucks! Titanium rod, check. 10 years later I only have mild arthritis where they cut my hip open to shove the rod in. Also a little above my knee where they nailed it down.

    Northern WI is a good place to break bones. Docs get lots of practice on drunk snowmobilers.

    I am most interested to hear if he has his removed. My dic said no. But i imagine if you hit it hard that rod is gonna rattle and explode lots of bone in bad places. I’m still riding and worry about that.

  2. Norm G. says:

    rod in left leg, car accident ’93. plates and screws in BOTH the right collar bone AND right wrist (too many breaks to count), highside coming up the hill, north course VIR ’06. just thankful i can still do me push-ups. as far as i’m concerned va. has the best medical care and orthopaedics in the country. dr. ting in fremont’s got nothing on richmond.

  3. Mark Achterman says:

    Classic left hand turn in front of on coming motorcycle (me), t-boned R/H door, the result:
    Bi-lateral femur fracture, mid-femur, both legs, Dec 1973, out of traction, Mar ’74,leg casts until Sept. 73, began rehab, left leg began to bend, rod in left leg, Dec 74.

    Had a conservative doctor, didn’t want to pin both at time of accident. Big mistake, both of my knees at age 61 are paying for the decision of 3.5 months of traction. Bone fracture management has come light-years since 1973

  4. Mickey says:

    I think these guys are super competitive and come back way sooner than they should, although I guess the doctors are releasing them to race. To me it’s incomprehensible. Bones used to take 6 weeks to heal and then the therapy could begin. Yes Rossi’s was a tibia/fibula break but it was a compound fracture. That’s nasty. I think if you have to have someone hold your crutches while you climb on your bike, that’s a sign it’s too early to race again. At least that’s my opinion.

  5. brinskee says:

    I have had the “pleasure” of enduring a femur break and boy it is not fun. By far the most pain (intensity and duration) I have ever been through. I seriously thought about hanging it up and calling it quits with motorcycles – I was in an accident, and you guessed it, it wasn’t my fault. But having been on a bike in some manner over the past 20 years, it was just too difficult to quit.

    But I have been afraid to do a track day since then, or participate in a lot of the sports I previously enjoyed. First, I never want to go through that again; 3 years and two operations later, I’m still trying to rebuild the muscle that atrophied or was damaged through surgery etc. Not to mention the cost ($187,000) the rehab, or the three blood clots I threw during the surgery, the blood transfusion… Second, the hardware (titanium) is still in there, and the doctors have said if I were to break it again with that rod in there they would probably have to amputate. That’s not great.

    Hearing about Bautista made me immediately feel bad for the guy. It also made me wonder what kind of break he had. Mine broke in two places, one right in the middle, and the other way up by my hip. They were complete breaks too, with nasty bone fragments, etc. It was a pretty nasty break, and I lost 3/4 of an inch on that leg. But I’m 6’6″ so it’s not a big deal. Regardless, I am amazed that he’s gunning to race this weekend. At 6 weeks I was still on two crutches and taking loads of Vicodin. He has some balls.

  6. Pete says:

    Broken femur = ouch!!!!! I did it in ’94. Club racing at Loudon. Had a steel rod put in. Took 6+ months to get all motion back at the knee. Was back to work in 5 weeks but still needed minor pain meds. 42 days is mighty impressive. His physical therapy was probably grueling.

  7. Tom Barber says:

    For anyone who ever is in the unfortunate situation where surgeons propose putting metal in you, especially a rod but even if it is only a couple of little screws, insist that it be titanium, not steel. Even stainless steel can have enough magnetic behavior to preclude taking MRI scans on a person who has stainless steel anywhere within them. In practice it might not be strong enough to cause any harm, but you would likely find it difficult to find an operator willing to take that risk. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who fear MRI machines, then a good way to insure that you’ll never be asked to have one one again is to let a surgeon put a steel rod in you.

  8. Davis says:

    Hopper is racing BSB now. His team doesn’t want to give him up. Rossi and RDP broke Tib/Fib, not Femur. I don’t think Bautista will be competetive, but it will be hard to tell if it is the bike or the leg that is slowing him down now.

    • Norm G. says:

      the benefit of the doubt i’m sure is appreciated, but since he’s on the suzuki it will most assuredly be the BIKE…

  9. Bill says:

    what happened to Hopper as the backup?

  10. Chango says:

    Why not? Rossi and DePuniet both did it last year.