Isle of Man TT: Plater has Broken Neck

IoM TT News

The HM Plant Honda team will be missing their biggest star in the pits at the start of the 2010 Isle of Man TT today, as reigning TT Champion Steve Plater needs additional surgery to fix a broken neck.

The 2009 Senior TT and 2008 Supersport TT Champion sustained a broken arm during a crash while practicing for the North West 200 in Northern Ireland two weeks ago that required two operations, a plate for two broken bones and another to relieve pressure to the carpal tunnel.

But after the surgeries, Plater was still experiencing shoulder and chest pain pain, and further analyzing at a Lincolnshire facility found a break in his neck between the sixth and seventh vertebrae.

According to Plater’s publicist, a subsequent MRI scan has confirmed in detail Plater’s neck injury and enabled the surgeon to understand the exact nature of the injury and discuss the way forward.

On Wednesday, Plater will undergo surgery that will take a bone graft from his pelvis and realign and plate the vertebrae from the front; a second operation will occur later in the week to plate the vertebrae from the back.

Steve Plater says: "I know people can’t understand how it’s taken until now to discover the injury in my neck, but it probably would have been quicker with someone who has a more ‘normal’ tolerance level of pain! The X-rays showed up clear as they aren’t so detailed, but because of the neck and shoulder pain I was having when I returned home, the consultant in Lincolnshire ordered a scan of my head and neck to double check.

"The best way to describe the injury is imagine each vertebra is a train carriage and then there’s the link arm in between – well it’s the link bit which is broken quite badly. The very fortunate thing though is that the broken bits appear to have fallen away from my spinal cord, otherwise the picture could have been different.

"You’re not meant to have an MRI scan for about six weeks after an operation if you’ve had any metal put in your body as it can move the metal, but given the situation that rule of thumb had to go out the window. But, it doesn’t seem to have caused any issue with my arm.

"It’s been explained to me that people that have this type of neck injury and operation usually return to totally normal life pretty quickly, so I’m hopeful that will be the case for me and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be.

"With my arm, the swelling is beginning to go down and I’ve got more movement in my fingers now. It’s all still pretty bruised but heading in the right direction so I’m hopeful more feeling will start to come back soon.

"I am frustrated that the operation can’t be done until Wednesday due to it being Bank Holiday and surgeons being away or medical suppliers being closed, but at least I get to be at home this weekend, all be it staying very still! I’m also gutted that I won’t be able to make it to the TT to just be with the team and spend time with the fans, but getting fixed is my priority at the moment. The pain is quite uncomfortable in my neck and shoulder so I’m pleased we now know the way ahead and I’m looking forward to firstly, getting back to normal and then, seeing how I can try to regain the Superstock championship lead."

"I’d like to say again big thanks to all the medical staff who’ve been involved and also everyone who has sent me well wishes. Emails, text messages and cards keep coming and, people have even been sending get well messages to Honda for me and also posting messages on the team’s website and YouTube account! It means a lot so thanks again to everyone. I’ll keep you posted with my progress and look forward to being back out there again soon."

Replacing Plater will be 38-year-old Keith Amor, who took two podium finishes last year in the Supersport and Superstock Class. He will race besides Plater’s teammate, 15-time winner John McGuinness.

2010 Isle of Man Schedule:
Monday, May 31 to Friday, June 4
Saturday, June 5
Superbike TT Race, 6 laps
Sidecar TT Race 1 3 laps
Monday, June 7
Supersport TT, Race 1, 4 laps
Superstock TT, Race, 4 laps
Wednesday, June 9
Supersport TT, Race 2, 4 laps
Sidecar TT Race 2, 3 laps
TT Zero Race, 1 lap
Friday, June 11
Senior TT Race, 6 laps