Pascal Blaurock is back riding his bike. And there’s more: he does backflips, tail whips, and no hands – spectacular BMX tricks for professionals. And he rides forest trails at full speed, downhill, and around narrow corners. That is not a matter of course if you know Pascal’s story. 18 months ago, he had such a serious accident that physicians told him he would not be able to ride a bike again.
Serious injury of the knee joint
“Unhappy triad” was the diagnosis, and really everything about it was unhappy: Pascal was badly injured during a standard trick. The reason was trivial: the floor of the BMX indoor arena was wet and slippery.
The unhappy triad is a very rare and serious combination injury of the knee joint, which can occur when a rotational movement is forced while the knee joint is bent. And that is what Pascal described to us: During a relatively simple trick, he kept his right foot on the ground but continued turning with the rest of his body. In that moment, everything changed for Pascal – even though he did not realize this during the first few minutes after his fall. “The lower leg rotated out of my kneecap. Then there was a loud cracking sound. I wasn’t aware of anything in this situation, I was just focusing on my knee,” Pascal remembered. A friend brought him an icepack to cool his knee. A nice gesture but there was nothing to salvage. “An unhappy triad is like an atomic bomb in your knee,” Pascal described his injury.
An unhappy triad is like an atomic bomb in your knee.
Several fractures and torn ligaments
In addition to the unhappy triad – i.e. the tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, the medial collateral ligament, and the injury to the medial meniscus – Pascal broke his kneecap, knee joint, knee joint column, thigh, and lower leg, and tore the lateral collateral ligaments, the posterior cruciate ligament, the quadriceps muscles, and the sensitive nerves below the knee. In short: hardly anything in Pascal’s leg was left undamaged. The physicians gave him a form before essential surgery in which he had to sign that he agreed to potentially amputating his leg in case it couldn’t be avoided.
However, he didn’t hit rock bottom. Quite the opposite, in fact. His friends and family were a huge support right from the start, and they helped Pascal not to lose sight of his goal. And that was: back on the bike, as quickly and as successfully as possible.
Targeted exercises support the healing process
Many physiotherapists contacted Pascal after his first surgeries saying they would like to work with him, and get him back on track. The injury was a challenge for everyone involved; for Pascal, but also for the physicians and therapists, some of which tried to treat such a complex leg injury for the very first time. “The physicians told me that it would take as much as twelve months before I could walk again. I knew then: this was going to be long journey. And I tried to make the most of it.”
I had to learn to walk again.
Looking back, Pascal told us that he owed his physiotherapist everything: “Without him, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, and, most of all, I wouldn’t be doing my sport.” He showed Pascal that he could rebuild the muscular foundation using many targeted exercises. “During physio, I noticed all the things I couldn’t do any longer. I had to learn to walk again,” Pascal explained. “I had to relearn movements that we learn as little children.”
The orthosis provides confidence and stabilization
Pascal’s range of motion is still very limited. “What motivates me for the future are the small victories that I have. It took me four months instead of twelve to walk again. I was even back on my bike. I knew then: this is your home. This is where you belong. Those are the small steps that spur me on, and encourage me.”
Being aware of victories – even when they’re small: that’s important.
However, Pascal also notices that his knee is not quite as secure as before the accident, and that is something he has to work on. The orthosis helps him by supporting and stabilizing his knee. After surgery, Pascal constantly wore his orthosis, later also during physiotherapy, and now during cycling. “It’s also important for your mind. You know you have the orthosis on your knee, and you dare do something again, you’re freer mentally.”
“An unhappy triad is very rare, and luckily affects just very few people. But since I made it back on the bike afterwards, then others can do it, too. Especially, when they have less complex injuries,” Pascal said with confidence. “I came out the other side as a winner. I learned a lot for the future. Despite everything: I wouldn’t want to miss out on that time.”