FORMER stable jockey Kevin Shea is one of the characters of the sport but underneath his fun loving nature is a fierce professional resolve and this has enabled the world class veteran jockey to return to the saddle earlier than expected from a debilitating back problem, reports DAVID THISELTON.
Shea, who had formed a successful winning partnership with trainer Duncan Howells before the injury flared up, was booked for two rides at Greyville on Sunday.
Shezi’s on the comeback trail.
Shea has been riding work without pain since core training and other measure taken have enabled his strength to reach the necessary levels.
He went to great lengths to speed up the process and has visited various medical practitioners or centres, including a masseuse, the spinal injury unit at a local hospital, a physiotherapist, doctors and even a man in the centre of Durban who has practised traditional Chinese medicine for decades.
The latter doctor used a technique to remove the damaged blood from the bruised area, which speeds up the process of healing the bruises. Suction cups are first placed above the bruised area and then removed. An incision is then made and the cups are put on again, thereby sucking the dark, damaged blood out of the system. Fresher blood should then move in to replace it. With each session the removed blood becomes redder, indicating it is fresher.
Shea is not sure whether this treatment sped up his recovery, but he said he had been “desperate” to be back riding, so had been willing to give it a try. During the healing process he has picked up various preventative measures for the future from the different practitioners he has visited.
He said, “I have been riding for 37 years, so can expect some wear and tear, but little things I have now been made aware of like not bending down and a million things the spinal unit taught me should help prevent injury.”
Shea, who last rode on August 31, was grateful when tests in early September showed that no long term damage had been done to the nerves by a “bulged C3 vertebra”, but he went through indescribable pain for about a week as the disc had been touching one of the nerves.
His sports medicine consultant is former Sharks team doctor Craig Springate, who, like Shea, believes there are better ways of fixing a problem than going under the knife.
Shea will build up his number of rides with each successive meeting in order to be ready for the Johannesburg feature season which is fast approaching.