John Force medical update 2007-10-19

DRAG RACER FORCE'S PHYSICAL THERAPY PROGRESS COULD SEND HIM HOME THIS WEEKEND DALLAS, Texas -- Drag racing champion John Force, seriously injured in a Sept. 23rd crash at Texas Motorplex, praised the medical staff at Baylor University Medical...

DRAG RACER FORCE'S PHYSICAL THERAPY PROGRESS COULD SEND HIM HOME THIS WEEKEND

DALLAS, Texas -- Drag racing champion John Force, seriously injured in a Sept. 23rd crash at Texas Motorplex, praised the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center and the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation Friday and demonstrated his daily physical therapy regimen in advance of an expected Saturday release.

Force, 58, suffered a compound fracture of the left ankle, broken right foot, broken and mangled fingers on his right hand, ligament and tendon damage to the right knee and a badly dislocated left wrist when his drag racing Funny Car crashed at a speed exceeding 300 miles per hour.

Despite his injuries, the 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion is expected to fly home to Yorba Linda, Calif., Saturday, 16 days after entering physical therapy and 27 days after suffering the worst accident of his 30-year career. He will receive further physical therapy in his home state in anticipation of returning to competition in the 2008 season.

The 125-time NHRA tour winner plans to attend at least one day of next week's race at Las Vegas, Nev., to support the efforts of daughter Ashley Force, 24, and son-in-law Robert Hight, 38, who drive Castrol GTX and Automobile Club of Southern California-backed Ford Mustangs almost identical to the one in which he crashed into fellow competitor Kenny Bernstein when a tire failed after his semifinal victory.

Flanked by Amy Wilson, M.D., the medical director for BIR, and Melissa Simon, his primary physical therapist, Force said his plan is to be back lina race car when his team begins testing for the 2008 season in January.

Despite those lofty expectations, Dr. Wilson acknowledged that Force still has a lot of work ahead of him. Because of the fact that he has been instructed not to put weight on his left ankle for another month, the 14-time Auto Racing All-American is confined to a wheelchair or a walker. However, he demonstrated Friday his technique for getting into and out of a passenger car, one of the conditions of his release.

Although he had been offered air ambulance service by Kalitta Air, owned by fellow drag racer Connie Kalitta, Force said he planned to travel by commercial airliner back to the Los Angeles area where he will be re-united with his family: wife Laurie and daughters Ashley, Brittany, Courtney and Adria Hight.

"Getting home will be a big step," Force said. "I can't say enough about the care they've given me at Baylor. I couldn't have been in better hands, but going home tells me that I'm making real progress. It's still hard, the physical therapy, but I have a goal and that's what gets me up and going every morning."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Ashley Force , Connie Kalitta , Robert Hight