Brad “The Bullet” Baker
Hey everyone, hope you and your families have had a great year regardless of the crazy times we have all been facing. For me, 2020 has been a decent year overall. American Flat Track was able to get their season back underway in early July with a modified and compacted 8 doubleheader race weekend schedule. It felt weird only having 25-50% fans at max and having to wear a mask all day at the track, but at least we were going racing again. The two riders that I help out on the Indian Motorcycle Racing team did very well. One rider won the grand national championship for the second year in a row, and the other rider finished 5th overall. I was the expert commentator for all 16 races for the NBC Sports online live stream broadcasts. My partner, Scottie Deubler, and I picked up right where we left off last year and continued to gel even better together this year with more experience working together. We must have done an excellent job because we have received lots of positive compliments, and AFT wants us both back next year to continue doing the live stream and do the commentary for the tape-delayed NBC Sports TV broadcast. I have also spoken with Indian Motorcycle, and they would like me back next year as the rider coach once again. So if all goes as planned, I’ll basically be doing the same thing next year. In addition to my role at American Flat Track, I was able to get back to racing myself a little bit this year. I was able to get out in a micro sprint car 3 times, including one race, and get myself some much-needed throttle therapy again haha. This type of car racing is similar to what I did on bikes, so I quickly picked it up. I didn’t make the A-main feature at my first race, but I wasn’t entirely far off. It’s only a matter of getting more seat time, and I feel like I’ll be competing for some wins again. I plan to do as much racing in it as I can next year between AFT races.
The most exciting news that I have to update you guys on is I’m going to be getting a procedure done on the 16th of December that will hopefully help me with my recovery. I’m going to be getting an epidural stimulator implanted and my spinal fusion hardware removed. The neurologist that initially set and fused my spine in Minnesota has done around 20 clinical trials with the epidural stimulator. It’s helped almost all patients improve some quality of life. All the way from reducing or eliminating nerve pain, improving bladder, bowel, and sexual function brings back voluntary movements. If it helps me with any of these, I will be happy! The removal of my spinal hardware has been suggested by several experienced spinal surgeons. It should eliminate some of the back pain and discomfort I have and give me back a little more range of motion. So I will be laid up for about 4-6 weeks after the surgery to let things heal from the hardware removal, and then I will hit therapy hard again and see what all I can gain back with the use of the epidural stimulator.
The newest and most exciting news is that Kelcey and I got engaged on the 19th of December! We’re really excited and we’ve already picked out a venue and date which is 07/17/21. Kelcey is an angel and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her!
This year I’m going to be playing basically the same role as I did last year with color commentating for American Flat Track and being a rider coach for the factory Indian Motorcycle team. That means Kelcey and I will be doing a lot of traveling again with there being 18 rounds all over the nation. I also plan to put on a handful of riding schools again helping riders from age 7 all the way to age 70. I put on my first school of the year in Texas on February 1st and it was a big success!
I had planned to start racing a micro sprint car this year starting in April but with the recent pandemic things may be postponed. I met a gentlemen from Hoosier Racing Tire last year who has a son, Eric, who is my age and was paralyzed racing motocross when he was 19. For the past 5 years he has been racing micros and has been having a blast doing it. I bought a car last year and they have me set up to start getting some seat time in this year. It’s going to be awesome to get that throttle therapy and competition back in my life.
Far as my recovery goes, I still go to therapy three days a week and also do things at home. Unfortunately, I have not seen much progress below my level of injury in quite a while. It seems like the most of what I’ve got came in the first 3-6 months and after that I pretty much plateaued. However, I have gained a lot of upper body strength. My arms and shoulders are really strong and my cardio is decent. I also run my legs on a FES bike several times week to keep away muscle atrophy and help with bone density. I feel pretty healthy and strong besides having paralysis.
Furthermore, I found out at the end of October after getting an MRI of my thoracic spine that I may possibly have a cyst that is putting pressure against my spinal cord. I had a Mylogram CT scan done and I’m waiting to hear from my neurologist on what she thinks we need to do right now. Part of me wants to hear the cyst is putting pressure on my spinal cord and inhibiting function so hopefully when I get it removed I gain back more function and part of me hopes it isn’t cause I don’t want to go through another invasive surgery. So I guess that’s in God’s hands.
I’ve been talking to the national stem cell institute from Clearwater FL about doing their procedure. They have a new FDA approved infusion device that affectively gets about 60 million of your own stem cells infused into your spinal fluid. This is about twice the amount of injecting them without all the risk that could potentially happen while getting an injection. I’m going to wait to hear back about my cyst to make my decision on what I’m going to do there and when or if I will get stem cells.
I’m also still considering epidural stimulation. My neurosurgeon in MN has done about 15 clinical trials now and all have shown increased function. Some have made huge gains and some not so much, but all have said it helps with neuropathic pain and muscle spasms. This would be huge even if it just helps me with that and I can get off some medications. All in all I’d say things are going okay with my recovery. Obviously I want much more than what I have right now and deep down I’m still struggling with accepting this but I’m just happy that there are some options that could really improve my quality of life and bring back more independence.
Thank you all so much for your kindness and generosity not only to me, but to all athletes in need. You guys are awesome and I hope you know how appreciated you are.
Brad “The Bullet” Baker, X Games Flat Track athlete was critically injury this past Sunday, July 22nd at X Games. During Flat Track race practice at X Games, Brad high-sided over the handlebars and suffered a spinal cord injury. He was immediately transported by EMS to a local hospital in Minneapolis where he underwent surgery to repair the multiple fractures to his T6, T7, and T8 vertebra. These fractures released bone fragments that were putting pressure on his spinal cord causing paralysis from the middle of his back down. His surgeons fused his T3 through T10 together, placed a drain in his back to remove a hematoma, and addressed his bilateral broken 7th ribs. The good news is that his spinal cord was not severed and the surgery to repair his vertebra and release the pressure on his cord went well. On Tuesday the 25th, his doctors were able to remove the drain.
As of now Brad has not regained movement of his lower body. He states that he has some tingling and burning sensation in his feet and can feel some vibrations in his knees. Brad is already starting in-patient therapy at the hospital and is looking into in-patient therapy hospitals closer to his home in Washington State.
It is still too early to know the outcome from his injuries, however Brad and his family remain hopeful and positive. His injuries are extensive and it is going to be a very long and hard road ahead for Brad and his family. Being the 2013 Grand National Champion and third youngest to become a champion in the history of the sport; Brad is no stranger to hard work and the dedication that will be needed in the upcoming months.
He does have insurance that will cover some of his hospital expenses but not all and he will have years of physical therapy ahead of him. If you are able to donate to Brad’s R2R cause, please do so by donating here. If not, please share and keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. #6Strong