Last week a negligent car driver caused a crash in Spain in which Deceunick-QuickStep riders Time Trial specialist Remi Cavagna and Mauri Vansevenant suffered moderate injuries. Quickstep are in Altea , Spain as part of practice camp ahead of the 2022 cycling season. According to them, after group photos they had a group ride on a two lane downhill road. A car which was disregarding right of way rules pulled into their road from a side road, crashing into them. Most of the riders avoided the crash but Remi,Mauri and one other weren’t so fortunate. Mauri got a broken thumb from the accident and went back home to Belgium. Remi had the more serious injury, a broken L1 vertebra which is my focus for today.

What is an L1 vertebra? It is bone and nerves in the lower part of the back. It is part of a group of these called the Lumbar spinal column (L1 to L5). When you fracture an L1 veterbra there is compression on it causing some discomfort. Vertebrae are essential in sending messages from the brain to the legs. The L1 vertebra is the upper most part of the column. There are many causes of the fracture in the case of Remi , trauma due to an accident. Genetics has got a day too with some veterbra issues inherited, osteoporosis (the weakness of bones over time) as well as poor posture when seating. The later is called degenerative L1 veterbra injury.

Symptoms to watch out for are weakness in the lower part of the body, immobility requiring use or partial use of a wheelchair or walking devices. In extreme cases the victim fails to control bowel and bladder movement (a nasty one no doubt). Some injuries are not serious enough to warrant surgery but Remi’s will require it but thankfully there is no extensive damage to nerves. He is in hospital in Valencia. The surgery is necessary to decompress the nerves. Other treatment include anti inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy to regain strength in the affected area. Usually rehabilitation takes 3 months for Remi’s injury but for Mauri he should be back in 4 weeks.