Sometimes Cash Selby closes his eyes and imagines he’s back on the track.
There, racing motocross in the pack with his friends, he can feel the dirt flying behind his wheels, the air under his bike with each jump and the uncertainty until each landing.
“I miss the competition. I miss the adrenaline rush. I miss the power under my hands,” Cash, 13, said.
Ranked nationally in May 2018 as one of the top 20 motocross riders for his age group by JuniorMotoX – an indoor amateur motocross event -- he hasn’t raced his bike for about a year.
At a race in September 2017, Cash’s bike went sideways in the air during a jump, throwing him off when he landed. The crash caused his right leg to break from his femur down to his tibia and fibula. The incident confined Cash to a cast for about four months.
Not long after his leg healed enough to get back on the bike, he crashed during a motocross race in April 2018, breaking his back.
“I was up in the stands a long way away, but you instantly know when it’s a bad one,” his mom Lorrie Selby said. “I just wanted to see him move, and he was moving his legs.”
“The kid is just tough as nails.”
That was only the beginning. The 2017 leg injury left sustaining damage to Cash’s growth plate, causing his leg to jut out at a 32-degree angle as he continued to grow taller.
Since he was a toddler, the Selby family has relied on clinicians at Children’s Health℠ to care for Cash. Now, the family depends on the medical staff at Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine to help their son get back on the bike.
“We see a lot of accidents on the track like this, and we talk with other parents,” Cash’s dad Mark Selby said. “Anytime we’re out and something happens, we tell parents, ‘Take them to Children's Health.’”
Last December, Dr. John Polousky, an Orthopedic Surgeon at the Children’s Health Andrews Institute, attached a bulky external metal-frame fixator around Cash’s shin to hold the bone in place while new bone formed. Every night for the first month, Cash’s parents slowly turned the struts – adjustable bars rotated carefully to lengthen the bone millimeter by millimeter.
“Hey, bud, how’s it going?” Dr. Polousky asked Cash at a recent April appointment as the teenager walked toward an exam room. “You’re walking great.”
Standing in front of a computer screen in a hallway at the Children’s Health Andrews Institute, Dr. Polousky pulled up X-ray images of Cash’s leg. He peered at the black-and-white scans, examining them for progress and bone growth.
Nodding, he turned the screen toward Lorrie.
“He’s made a ton of bone,” Dr. Polousky said, pointing his finger to the images and explaining that next he would remove a couple struts from the fixator to destabilize the contraption and test the strength of Cash’s leg. “As long as he feels good with that, then we can think about taking it off.”
Doctors and nurses at Children’s have treated Cash for every motocross broken bone – both wrists, his elbow, his back, and finally, his leg.
“The doctors were amazing. The experience was like you were the only patient there,” Lorrie said.
Dr. Polousky removed the fixator from Cash’s leg on April 4. The teenager wasn’t allowed to run or jump on it until the end of May.
But Cash was anxious to get back on the bike. He had a newer, bigger one waiting at home.
“Dr. Polousky reminded me to stay positive and helped give me a future to get back to riding,” Cash said.
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