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By Tiffany Brooker with Graham Potter | Wednesday, May 15, 2019

She has been missing from the saddle for ten months but the long wait for a return to race action will soon be over for Tiffani Brooker. By necessity, because of the nature of her back injury, Brooker has been obliged to follow a slow, measured, patient (and mostly frustrating) rehabilitation program but she is now building fitness momentum physically and is totally refreshed mentally which means she is on track to come back as strong as ever. Tiffani Brooker spoke to HRO’s Graham Potter.

“The start of my problem goes back to a fall I had in February, 2018 in which I was knocked unconscious and suffered concussion. I came back probably a little bit too quickly from that and then in July last year one played up with me in the gates and I hurt my back.

"It took a couple of months for them to pinpoint where the problem was. It was sort of between my shoulder blades but the exact nature of the injury wasn’t initially diagnosed.

“It was painful … but I wasn’t in that much pain and things did get a little bit better. I saw an osteopath for a little bit. I then came and resumed trackwork but within about ten days it flared back up again.

"What happened then was I had nerve pain all over the right side of my body and I had bad migraines … so I had to go back to the doctors.

“They then finally put me in an MRI so they could pinpoint exactly what it was. That’s when they realised I had slipped two disks in my neck months before which wasn’t picked up until then. In addition, when trying to come back too quickly, I had damaged my sciatica nerve.

“There was a lot of waiting about. I would have an MRI and then I would have to wait three weeks to see a specialist. He would want to do another test and I would have to go through that waiting period again and then they would want a second opinion and so it went on.

“In the end I saw two neurologists, a neuro-surgeon, a spinal specialist … there were lots of visits to the doctor, three MRI’s … and just so much waiting.

“It does wear you down. There was a time when I wasn’t doing anything at all and I pretty much realised I can do nothing so I stepped away from racing altogether for a couple of months last year.

“Leading up to the injury I had never taken a break before that. Then, riding in pain and suffering afterwards … I was still watching the races and watching the horses I rode … but I got to the point where I decided to take a couple of months right away from racing as I felt I needed to be refreshed.

“When I came back in January I thought I’d be up to it in a week and get straight back but I definitely had to be taken down a notch by friends and be told … ‘look, you’ve had this long out, it is not going to matter if it takes a bit longer’.

“I only started physio at the start of this year. They have slowly and carefully worked on my neck because I had been getting lots of headaches. From about six weeks ago I have stopped having so many headaches … like those daily headaches have subsided.

"I do physio twice a week and I’m am constantly working on improving my situation in that regard.

“I’ve done a lot of trackwork. I’ve been riding trackwork since February and I’ve gradually been building up from riding one or two a day. I’m riding more than that in the morning now so I’m getting to that level where I just need to wait for the physio to give me a clearance to ride in races..

“I need the clearance which I am hoping to get at the end of the month.

“I am raring to go!”

More articles

Tiffani Brooker ...
Tiffani Brooker ...
… back in work if not quite back to race riding yet … strapping a winner (Travistee for Paul Jenkins) at the Sunshine Coast on May 3
… back in work if not quite back to race riding yet … strapping a winner (Travistee for Paul Jenkins) at the Sunshine Coast on May 3
Looking forward to getting back to enjoying herself ...
Looking forward to getting back to enjoying herself ...
… and bringing home some winners

Photos: Graham Potter
… and bringing home some winners

Photos: Graham Potter
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