Fadzlee takes the first step to a 100 per cent recovery
It was a day like any other sometime in March 2019. Mountain bike coach Fadzlee Ariff, 39, better known as Fadzlee, was eager to scorch yet another trail down Bukit Dinding, the famous getaway for bikers and hikers on the outer perimeters of Kuala Lumpur. The trail Fadzlee was about to undertake was about 1.5 kilometres long with a rocky stretch towards the end.
City boy Fadzlee had gone through so many international competitions in his mountain biking career. This one was just another routine run for him as he prepares for yet another trailblazing ride. Earlier, he was told that the trail had some features that might floor foreign bikers. Like all responsible professionals, he took it upon himself to check the trail out to make sure that it was safe for everyone participating in a race soon to be held there.
It was around noon and Fadzlee was in high spirits. All set to cruise down the trail and later join other bikers for lunch at the bottom of the hill, Fadzlee saddled his iron steed. Within a flash he was shooting down the trail with the sure-footedness of a mountain goat, bouncing around the nook and cranny of Bukit Dinding. Having conquered more treacherous trails in his 26 years of mountain biking, he didn’t find this much of a problem, save for some rocky patches near the end of the trail.
But just as he was clearing the rocks, he was thrown off the bike. He didn’t know what struck him or what he had hit. Fadzlee was knocked out for what appeared to be an eternity. When he came to, reality struck a painful blow when he saw what was left of his left leg – twisted, and his foot was in a different position. Panic set in quickly, overcome only by the searing pain he had yet to know. He had taken the tumbles before but not this severe.
“I didn’t remember much of the horror or how I was brought down to the bottom of the trail. All I remembered was the pain that I have never felt before,” he said. “It happened in a flash. All I could think of was that moment could be the end of my biking career.”
Impact broke the femur
The impact of the fall had snapped the strongest bone in the human body – his thigh bone or femur.
After an excruciating wait of about 30 minutes at the foot of the hill amid the worries faces of his fellow bikers, the ambulance arrived. Fadzlee was rushed to a public hospital but was later transferred to a private hospital. In a gruelling five-hour operation, doctors managed to put his thigh bone back together. Metal rods were inserted to stabilize the bone for it to heal and screws were embedded to keep the rods in place.
A month after hospitalisation and many basic physiotherapy sessions later, Fadzlee was up and about, learning how to walk using crutches. It was a struggle between feeling depressed and looking for that flicker of hope that he could walk – and ride – again. Determination and grit saw him on a daily emotional rollercoaster – flung up and down between hope and despair.
“During my first post-surgery appointment, the doctor told me that it would take me 6 to 8 months to start walking again,” he said. However, determined to do that faster, he fast-tracked from moving using crutches and then putting himself on the stationary bike. He would ride short intervals in between excruciating pain and with each attempt, he eventually rode longer and longer.
As fate would have it, Fadzlee was introduced to physiotherapy-based movement specialist Physiowerkz which had long been using its Physiowerkz Movement Analysis & Treatment System (PMAT) to help athletes and non-athletes to understand their body and perform better in their daily lives. The silver lining of the cloud of despair brought hope that Fadzlee needed at the time.
Fadzlee visited Physiowerkz two months after the accident in March. He knew his body was making progress but how could he do better? After all he was super fit prior to the incident and he knew he could do better. Fadzlee went in for a PMAT session and was treated by a friendly senior physiotherapist Low Su Jiun. The thorough assessment showed him where his weaknesses were. He was treated, and taught exercises to improve mobility and strength holistically, based on his temperament and lifestyle.
“They were wonderful. My physio was very clear with her instructions and the exercises that were given to me were not difficult to do. She was also very firm that I comply,” Fadzlee. “I would practise the exercises almost every day as instructed so that every time I see her, I would make new milestones.”
Undegoing the non-invasive scan using the Diers Motion Lab equipment.
Limb weakness and muscle wasting
According to Su Jiun, when Fadzlee walked into Physiowerkz, the PMAT assessment showed weakness and muscle wasting in his left lower limb. He also had left knee pain from overloading and there were also quadriceps tightness after the surgery.
“We had to work on his soft tissue for scar management and muscle tightness around his knee and hip. Then we proceeded to strengthen his left leg to regain the bulk and strength. We also did a lot of work in regards to his core, left hip and knee stability,” Su Jiun said.
Having undergone 12 sessions since, Fadzlee knew he was on track yet again.
“From the sessions, I began to understand my body better and how I can improve,” he said. “I am now in the second stage where my body is being loaded, to increase strength and flexibility.”
Fadzlee was introduced to the second stage of therapy, known also as the InFITnitum programme, explained senior physiotherapist Tan Yen Li. “Here we start loading the group of muscles required for him to generate power during the pedal stroke.
“In addition, we also move on to strengthen the muscles required for him to improve shock control needed during downhill riding. As we start loading with single leg stability, strength and power, we also included dual-task training to prepare him for different situations he would face when he is out on the bike.”
Now almost back to his old form, Fadzlee said he was glad to have come to Physiowerkz.
Right formula to get back on track
“If I had not found their programme, I would still be struggling to find the right formula to get back on track,” he said, adding that without proper advice, he did not think he could have made it this far, this fast.
“In this sport, you have to always keep yourself very fit so that if you are injured, you can recover faster. But you also need the right people to tell you how take care of your body should you be injured,” he said. “With Physiowerkz, I now have a better understanding of how much I can do to push my body and when and what I should or should not do.”
Fadzlee recommends that mountain bikers, whether or not they have been injured, to get assessed. “They should get themselves assessed even if they are not injured. Sometimes old injuries can have a negative effect on how they ride.”
At the moment, Fadzlee is preparing the coming Langkawi Enduro event happening at the end of this month (August). With the will of iron, he is quite confident to take everything in his stride, one pedal at a time.
“This event is for me to see where I stand even though I know my bone is not fully healed yet,” he said. “Yeah, you could say that I am testing out the water.”
To find out more about the inFITnitum programme, please call us at 012 203 9390
All smiles as Fadzlee gets ready to tackle the InFITnitum exercises, his second stage of recovery therapy