excerpt from HH Media News Release Vol. 121
I spoke with Katherine’s dad Erich at length last night. Erich himself is back in hospital on the south side of the Auckland harbour bridge whilst Katherine is in the North Shore Hospital. Spare a thought for Helen Prumm as she ‘runs’ between the two and has her own career as a Business Services Manager.
Erich himself, is a Doctor with some 27 letters behind his name. He is suffering from a debilitating disease stemming from having broken his own back several years ago. Irony is Erich has been working with the ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) on spinal injuries in Motocross so in layman’s speak ‘he knows his stuff’.
The following edited information was supplied by Helen with added comment from Erich.
Katherine suffered temporary loss of feeling in her lower limbs for some time immediately after the accident. She underwent numerous CT scans and MRI scans to determine the correct method of surgery to repair the damage. Although she had fractured 3 vertebrae, T12 was causing the most concern as it was a blowout fracture and the ligaments were damaged both posteriorly and anteriorly, causing severe instability in the spine. (not T9 as I reported – AH)
Under normal circumstances Surgeons would operate via front and rear access to the spine but because of Katherine’s superior physical condition they only had to access through her back.
Once the surgery was underway they found that the facets on her vertebra, for the screws and rods, were very small and there was intense worry that the operation could cause more damage. 4.5mm screws were insufficient to carry an active top athlete, so hooks were used instead to ensure a good result.
Erich explains. “Once the operation commenced they found 4 vertibrae were broken. It was a very tense 7 hour wait to see if the surgery had been successful. The main concern was T12 as it had collapsed and put pressure on the spinal chord. Rods and plates were also used and Kath was fortunate that the damaged vertibrae were every second one so the undamaged ones could be used to attach to – basically like a welding process.”
Surgeons, Clayton Chan and Edward Yee from North Shore Hospital were happy with the outcome.
Erich again. “Kath said she knew she was in big trouble from the moment she took off from the jump. She landed face first and a result of the high impact is that the brain swells. That causes agitation which could dislodge a blood clot so Kath was heavily sedated. It is way too early to make any prognosis but it is a great relief to find that she has full feeling and use of her legs. She will be fitted with a custom fitted body cast to give her both internal and external stability. Kath is expected to be in the brace for a minimum of 3 months, followed by approximately 3 months of rehab.”
Katherine has added a comment. “Somebody was watching over me, I was really lucky, not to be paralysed and I am looking forward to getting fit and strong and to being back where I want to be. I am also very grateful to have had two such fantastic surgeons.”
Yamaha NZ’s Peter Payne visited Katherine late yesterday and said “a good sign is that they had Katherine in a wheelchair and were taking her off to have a shower.”