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James Huang blog: This still sucks but it could have been worse

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It's still early days but this Boxer's Fracture Brace from Exos Medical seems to be huge improvement over traditional plaster or fiberglass casts.

It's still early days but this Boxer's Fracture Brace from Exos Medical seems to be huge improvement over traditional plaster or fiberglass casts. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Now that I've got the cumbersome temporary splint off, I've now regained use of my thumb, index finger, and middle finger.

Now that I've got the cumbersome temporary splint off, I've now regained use of my thumb, index finger, and middle finger. (Image credit: James Huang)
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These Sentinel Boa shoes from The North Face are the only way I'll be hitting the trail for the next couple of weeks.

These Sentinel Boa shoes from The North Face are the only way I'll be hitting the trail for the next couple of weeks. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Boa lacing systems on The North Face's Sentinel Boa trail runners are just what I need until I can easily tie my own shoelaces again.

Boa lacing systems on The North Face's Sentinel Boa trail runners are just what I need until I can easily tie my own shoelaces again. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This is not my idea of a good time - though it did provide a convenient head start on a mummy costume for Halloween.

This is not my idea of a good time - though it did provide a convenient head start on a mummy costume for Halloween. (Image credit: James Huang)

So it's now been ten days since I broke the fourth metacarpal in my right (dominant) hand and while I can't say that it's been a pleasant experience, all things considered it could have been much worse. According to Dr. Robert Koch at Boulder Community Hospital, my fracture is stable and non-displaced, it's well supported by the surrounding network of ligaments and muscles – not to mention the adjacent bones – and I should hopefully be mostly good to go and out of this bloody cast in five weeks.

But what a cast it is. Things have apparently progressed quite a bit since the days of heavy plaster shells covered in magic marker and fingerpaint as I'm now donning a fancy Boxer's Fracture Brace from Exos Medical. Built from heat moldable materials and sporting the same Boa lace and reel technology as some high-end cycling shoes, it's surprisingly comfortable, much lower profile than traditional casts, adjustable (both in terms of tightness and shape), waterproof, and semi-breathable.

The best part, though, is that I can remove the thing for a few minutes a day for showers (and just to wiggle my fingers around a bit, too) and have been cleared to ride on a trainer or even on the road pain and comfort permitting – win!

Moreover, Dr. Koch fitted the heat moldable cast around my broken paw in less than ten minutes (with no mess to clean up, I might add) and I've regained the use of my thumb, index finger, and middle finger – a huge improvement over what was previously little more than a useless club. Under the direction of the local Exos sales rep, I've even already remolded one pressure point using a hair dryer.

Still, I obviously wasn't able to participate in the UCI-sanctioned 'cross races that came through town this past weekend so I instead played the spectator role (and downed two paper cups of freshly fried frites in the process). While there, though, I spoke to a surprising number of other cyclists who had suffered bone breakages in the same or similar areas. A couple also used Exos braces (the company makes a number of different models for upper and lower arm injuries) yet most didn't even know they existed – but wished they had.


This is not my idea of a good time - though it did provide a convenient head start on a mummy costume for Halloween.

In the meantime, I'm going to give myself another week or two before I try to grip a handlebar with my three available fingers and have already taken delivery of some indoor trainers to review and a pair of one hand-friendly Sentinel trail runners from The North Face so I don't get too fat going into the holidays.

So yep, could've been much worse – like my buddy who broke his tibia in Sunday's race – so relatively speaking I'll consider myself lucky. Lemons and lemonade and all that.