It’s been just over five months since Ken Roczen suffered a compound fracture of the radius and a dislocated elbow and wrist and related tissue damage in his crash at the 2017 Anaheim Two SX, but he continues to make progress with the recovery. On June 20th, the Team Honda HRC rider posted a quick video clip to his Instagram that showed him riding wheelies on Christian Craig’s Team Honda HRC CRF450R (Craig has been hired to fill Roczen’s spot for the summer due to the injury), and this looks to be his first time back aboard a full-size motocross bike.
For those not familiar with Roczen’s injury and recovery, here’s a recap…
During the 450 Main Event at the 2017 Anaheim Two SX, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen suffered a terrifying crash in a technical rhythm lane. It appeared that Roczen mistimed the section and after leaving the take-off of one jump, ejected himself off of the bike and slammed into the ground. The impact left the winner of the year’s first two races with a compound fracture of the radius and a dislocated elbow and wrist, as well as related tissue damage. The amount of time he will miss as a result is uncertain.
After being tended to by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Crew, Roczen was taken to a hospital in Irvine for further evaluation and was then prepped for a flight to Colorado. Quoting a Team Honda HRC press release issued last week, “Roczen was flown to Vail, Colorado, to go under the care of Dr. Randall Viola at The Steadman Clinic. Dr. Viola is the team physician for the Men’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team and a medical consultant to the Denver Broncos and U.S. Snowboard Team, and he specializes in hand, wrist and elbow injuries, with special interests in orthopedic and sports-related trauma.”
Since the initial surgery, Roczen has undergone eleven more procedures to insert and remove an external fixator device, along with a replacement of his elbow bone via a donor. To further expedite the recovery, he has a full therapy regimen that restores strength and mobility to his left arm.
“This obviously isn’t the way I was hoping the Supercross season would go, but I’ve accepted the challenge and am putting all of my effort into getting healthy again,” said Roczen in the Team Honda HRC press release. “I want to thank everyone at The Steadman Clinic, and specifically Dr. Viola and ‘Team Viola’ for all the care. It’s great knowing I have the best people possible helping me through this. The support from my fans and the industry on social media has been incredible too. I especially want to thank my team at Honda, which has truly become like a family, and of course my other partners who have been behind me 100%. I look forward to getting back to racing as soon as possible.”
Since arrival in Colorado on Sunday, January 22nd, Roczen’s arm has been set in external fixation, received a number of incisions to prevent swelling, and had debris removed from the wounds to lower the risk of infection. A final surgery is planned for later this week to close the remaining wounds and following that, Roczen will head to his home in Florida for further recovery. Roczen has remained at the hospital in Colorado for more than a week and he’s had welcomed visitors in close friends like Andrew Short, but a few overly aggressive fans have walked into the room unannounced, which prompted him to post a social media message asking fans to respect his privacy.
During our time at the 2017 Phoenix SX this past weekend, we asked Team Honda HRC team manager Dan Betley what will happen with the 94 bike and when Roczen is expected to ride again. Betley, who made the push for Roczen to ride red, stated that no fill-in rider will take the spot anytime soon and that the priority for the team is Roczen return to full health, no matter the length it will take. This plan for the long-term suits both the rider and team, as they are currently in the first term of a three-year contract.
There is a wide theory in the pit area that Roczen will miss the remainder of the 2017 season, which would include defending his 450 title in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, which Betley neither confirmed nor denied when asked. Considering the severity of the injury and the recovery that can be required for dislocations to the wrist and elbow, it would not be a surprise if Roczen’s return to racing occurred in 2018.
UPDATE: On Sunday, February 5th, Roczen made a long statement on his Instagram that fully revealed the injury and complications that came from the crash, including the compartment syndrome that occurred. For those that are not familiar with compartment syndrome, it is swelling that prevents blood flow from reaching the injured area of the body and could ultimately lead to permanent injury or even amputation. This was something that many feared when Roczen posted the photo of his arm sliced open a few weeks ago. With this news, Roczen has a long road of recovery ahead…