AIS women update - condition still critical, but AIS 'optimistic' about recovery

The head of the Australian Insititute of Sport (AIS), Professor Peter Fricker, said they have "reason to be optimistic" about the recovery of the five cyclists who are hospitalised in Germany after the tragic accident on Monday, Jul 18, 2005, that caused the death of cyclist Amy Gillett.

However, cyclists Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley are still in intensive care, unconscious since the incident on Monday and assisted by automatic ventilators. Meanwhile, Katie Brown, Kate Nichols and Lorian Graham remain in hospital, and are expected to stay for some time, recovering from the injuries sustained in the accident. The riders have been informed of the fate of their team-mate, and have been joined by close family who've flown to Germany.

All the riders are now in the same hospital after Lorian Graham was transferred overnight. The three conscious riders are now sharing the same room.

At a press conference in Germany, Professor Fricker, released details on the cyclists' conditions after the parents agreed to the release of factual information. "They want everyone to know they are optimistic about their daughters' recovery and extremely satisfied with the treatment they are receiving," he said.

"The Uni Klinik in Jena is a new facility and there is no rush to move them out of the facility because they are receiving the best possible care. Louise and Alexis are the most critically injured but both are very fit and strong and we have reason to be optimistic about their recovery," Prof Fricker added.

Cycling Australia's national performance director, Shayne Bannan, said the arrival of families and friends in Jena has lifted everyone's spirits.

"Last night Australian cyclists, Sara Carrigan, Olivia Gollan, Oenone Wood and Kate and Natalie Bates along with family and friends crowded into Kate, Katie and Lorian's hospital room for a visit," he said.

"It was a really positive experience for everyone and it was obvious to everyone the amazing women in the cycling program love each other very much and will do whatever they need to do to support each other through this tragedy," he said.

Carrigan, Gollan, Wood and the Bates sisters came to the hospital following the neutralised second stage of the Thüringen-Rundfahrt (see report). The first stage was cancelled due to the tragic accident and the organisers of the race instead held a memorial service for Amy Gillett.

The 60-competitor field is traumatised by the accident and chose not to race the second stage, but rode from Zeulenroda to Greiz under neutral conditions with the seven remaining Australians in the race crossing the line a little way ahead of the rest of the field as a mark of respect for Amy and support for the injured riders.

The latest medical status update from Cycling Australia is as follows (Cyclingnews advises this report does contain further detail that may further upset readers):

Katie Brown, 21 - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery on both her left knee and right leg. Katie also has fractures of three bones in her left wrist and her left ring finger is broken. Doctors expect her to be released from hospital in two or three weeks. Her parents Rodney and Lorraine Brown, brother Graeme Brown and his wife Hayley along with Katie's boyfriend Mark Renshaw are also in Jena.

Lorian Graham, 27 - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery. Graham has a fracture of her right collar bone and the patella in her left knee. Doctors have fixed tension wire to her knee to support it. Her left arm has some abrasions but are not aware of any fractures of her left arm or collar bone. Her mother, Lorian Graham (Snr) and sister Desley will arrive in Germany today.

Kate Nichols, 20 - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery to repair tendon damage in her right hand and fingers. Doctors have splinted her hand and fingers to minimise scar tissue and to assist in the return of full mobility in her hand. Nichols has a small piece of glass in her eye which doctors will remove if necessary. Multiple abrasions and doctors removed a lot of glass from her wounds but she is already undergoing physiotherapy and expected to be released from hospital in a week or so. Parents Kevin and Sylvia are in Jena.

Alexis Rhodes, 20 - Remains in a critical but stable condition in intensive care. Rhodes has suffered serious chest trauma and spinal injuries and will require further surgery. She has fractures of parts of her thoracic spine and seven broken bones in her back. There is no evidence at this stage that her spinal cord has been damaged. There are bone fragments near her spinal cord and doctors will operate to remove those in due course. Doctors are keeping Alexis unconscious, on an automatic ventilator and will not wake her until they believe it is medically safe to do so. She also has extensive tissue damage. Parents Jenni and Greg Rhodes are in Jena. She is expected to remain in hospital for 4 - 6 weeks.

Louise Yaxley, 23 - Remains in a critical but stable condition in intensive care. Louise underwent further surgery overnight to stabilise her condition. She has a small blood clot in her brain which is not causing any major problem at this stage and is being monitored by doctors. She has also suffered chest trauma and a puncture wound to her abdomen. She has a broken arm and severe damage to both arms and legs (grazing and abrasions which have stripped the skin from her limbs) that will require plastic surgery. Louise has not regained consciousness since the accident and is also on an automatic ventilator. Doctors will not wake her until it is medically safe to do so. Parents Annette and Brian Yaxley arrived early this morning and have visited the hospital and spoken with her doctors. Partner Mark Padget is also in Jena. She is expected to remain in hospital for 4 - 6 weeks.

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