Convalescence: the time spent recovering from an illness or medical treatment.
Story by: Jake Fox
In the late afternoon of July 6 2021, Jake Fox broke his neck riding an airbag landing. He had a small slip up on a backflip tuck no hander resulting in him going over the handle bars off the end of the landing. Jake was then rushed to hospital to undergo surgery to replace his blown up c5 vertebrae with an artificial cage. The surgery went well however his chances of ever walking again were a minimal 5%.
How did you handle hearing your chances of walking again were only 5%?
“I am not going to lie, it was really tough. Especially after hearing how well surgery went I thought I was going to be walking out of the hospital in no time. This was definitely my lowest point in my whole recovery and I fully broke down for a couple hours thinking about what life in a wheelchair was going to be like. I then regained my composure and realized being sad and negative wasn't going to do anything but hinder my recovery. So I decided to stay positive for myself and my friends/family and do everything I can to be that 5%.”
Jake would then spend the next 3.5 weeks at Vancouver General Hospital seeing steady progress in regaining body function. Jake was then transferred to GF Strong rehab center where he would really start to see improvements. At GF Jake really stepped up his rehab capitalizing on extra physio and ot appointments whenever possible.
After extensive work and help from all the amazing staff at GF strong, Jake walked out of the rehab center 2 months earlier then his expected release date.
What do you feel were the major contributors to your swift, odds defying recovery?
“There were definitely a lot of things that went into me being as fortunate as I was with my recovery besides being super lucky. But I feel there are a couple that stand out in my mind.
The first major thing was from the moment I crashed until the ambulance got there I didn't move at all. My good friend's dad Kyle Moore has good medical training and happened to be watching us ride that day. Instantly after I crashed he braced me in a C spine hold resulting in the least amount of damage possible. Secondly I would say maintaining a positive mindset throughout my recovery played a huge role. Having previous injuries taught me to focus on the small victories to the big goal of making a full recovery. The power of positivity is pretty insane especially when your body is in such a rehab state. The last major factor was all the support I received. From my family, friends, doctors, therapists and the bike community I am truly the luckiest guy in the world for having the support system that I have. Whether it was a donation to the Go Fund me or a kind message it all helped so much.
With pretty much all muscle groups working again, Jake would then spend the rest of fall and winter working towards his goal of a 100% recovery. He would work at regaining strength by biking, skiing, and gym workouts. He would also use this time to progress in his passion for photography.
Did this injury change your approach to riding?
“I am not sure if it necessarily changed my approach to riding because my main approach has always been to progress. Progression now just looks a lot different than it did before my injury. However it did change my appreciation for riding and the amount of joy it can bring you. I always loved biking but after having it taken away from me and wondering if I would ever be able to do it again makes every ride now that much more special. Even if I never get back to the point I was once at, I can guarantee I will be just as happy cruising a blue flow trail as I once was at the peak of my riding”.
Why did you want to create this video?
As soon as I went for my first ride since my injury I knew I wanted to create a back on the bike style video in the following spring. It gave me extra motivation and something to work towards all winter. I wanted to prove to myself that I was still capable of producing a good quality video and I hope that it will inspire people to tackle whatever it is they are dealing with.
Anyone you would like to thank?
So many people to thank. A huge thanks to my family and friends, I am the luckiest guy on the planet to have the support system that I had during my recovery. My good friend Liam for coming out and pointing the camera at me. Knolly bikes for supporting this recovery video and the rest of my sponsors; Chromag, Etnies, Leatt, Bloodstone, Ride or Die, Sensus and Velocity cycles. The continued support throughout this whole injury has meant the world to me and I am so lucky to represent some of the best companies in the sport. All my doctors and rehab specialists that helped me get back on my feet and beat the odds. Finally, I want to thank mountain biking. The whole scene gave me so much support, I am truly glad to be a part of such a great sport.
For a more in depth view on Jake's recovery read his article with Gnarrative;