Charlie Kelly visited Charlie Cunningham recently and sent us this report on how the mountain bike icon is recovering from the devastating injuries he sustained following a serious bicycle accident in August. In addition to multiple fractures (ribs, clavicle), Cunningham sustained a life-threatening head injury.
Cunningham has recovered from most of the structural damage. There are residual effects that are taking longer to resolve, primarily nerve damage that affects the use of his right index finger. He has taken several rides on the back of a tandem and more recently found he was able to ride his regular bike. That is most of the good news.
The bad news is that the effects of the head injury are much longer lasting than the other injuries. Cunningham has currently lost the ability to read, and his vision is compromised. He describes what he sees as “tunnel vision” with very little peripheral vision. His mental map is affected, and he has found it difficult to navigate in places where he has been many times.
Cunningham is receiving several forms of therapy, including speech therapy to help him regain his reading ability, physical therapy, and more general neural therapy at a clinic that specializes in brain injuries. After several months of therapy, the improvement in his vision and reading ability is slight, but Cunningham and his wife Jacquie Phelan are exploring work-arounds, such as CDs and books on tape.
As an icon from the earliest days of our sport, Cunningham has many friends and fans wishing him well. A GoFundMe site has been established to help him get through this difficult period in his life. If you appreciate his contributions to cycling, make one for him.