As of Friday, Van Homan is back on a bike. Following a serious head injury he suffered during X Games 16 practice, Homan was hospitalized with a cracked skull and bleeding and bruising on the brain. It's been a rough two and a half months, but Homan ultimately recovered from the injury, and as of this morning, is back riding. Just after his first session back at FDR skatepark in Philadelphia, I caught up with Homan to see how his recovery was going.
Welcome back, Van.
ESPN.com: Could you explain what your diagnosis was after you crashed at X Games?
Homan: I cracked my skull, and had bleeding and bruising on the frontal lobe of my brain. Doctors wanted to make sure that my brain didn't swell, so I was given all kinds of stuff to keep the swelling down. They kept monitoring me to make sure there was no more bleeding.
You couldn't fly back from L.A. afterwards? You had to drive, right?
They recommended that. I guess it's a precaution. The pressure from the plane isn't good, and the doctors don't want anyone to put that type of stress on the brain after a head injury. So we drove back to N.J. from California.
How long were you officially off your bike?
Today was actually my first day riding again, so just under three months. Two months and three weeks.
What have you been doing in the meantime?
As soon as I got clearance to, after a month and half, I started running a little bit, and doing light lifting with weights. In the hospital, from laying there, and then afterwards, I lost 15 pounds, and I wasn't fat before. It was mostly muscle. So I wanted to get myself back in shape. It sounds weird, but I'm 30. And I feel like some people have an injury like that, and it could potentially be the beginning of a decline. I didn't want to sit back, slack off and get a beer gut. I'd run a couple of miles at least every other day. Not jocking out, just keeping myself in shape.
Could you explain what it was like to get back to riding?
It felt good. Honestly, after any injury, it just feels really good to get back on it. You appreciate it more. After something like this, I was just excited to get back on, cruise and flow around. I wasn't worried about tricks I wanted to do; I could just appreciate being healthy and being able to enjoy my bike.
There was no adjustment?
I definitely feel rusty, but stuff was coming back pretty quick. I don't think this is an overnight thing, to where I'm back right where I was, but luckily, I didn't go through anything where this injury affected my muscle memory. It's more of getting the rust off and getting the confidence back.
Has your approach to wearing a helmet changed because of this injury?
I will definitely wear a helmet a lot more. Park and trails, it doesn't even faze me. Street is a little weird though. I've been doing it for so long, and it's a natural thing to just walk out the door and ride. You don't want to think about the fact that you're doing something dangerous. You want it to feel second nature, but the truth is, it's dangerous. Like I said though, I'm definitely going to wear a helmet a lot more. More for my family than even myself. I don't want to put them through what they had to go through again, or God forbid, worse. If I was a loner, that might be different, but I don't think it's fair to do that for my family.