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Old 12-15-2009   #1
Forks Of Salmon, California
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 10

Full writeup and pics here:

news :: [ river roots ] :: Nomads of Earth

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Old 12-15-2009   #2
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 275
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Hey man,

Sorry to hear about your accident. I know the pain, I had a 40-50% burst fracture on T-8, after landing too flat on a low volume 40 footer. I did the same thing as you; dead flat sitting up right. My fracture was right behind my diaphragm and breathing after wards was one of the most painful things I've been through.

Don't worry too much about the chip in the vertebra. An even larger part of mine fragmented off to the side. Your body will dissolve the fragmented bone, and use the calcium to bond the remaining part of the spinal column. You'll probably have to wear a body brace for 3 months, but at least you will probably not have to get surgery. They typically insert titanium rods if the compression is larger than 50% and deemed unstable, and yours fortunately looks pretty minor. Be careful in your day to day routines if your not wearing a body brace. Certain movements and pressures, could cause the vertebra to collapse further.

Incidents like this is why I'm always so pessimistic about people hucking 100 footers. I vividly remember that sensation of my entire body being numb, and how thankful I was when I finally realized I could still wiggle my toes. I couldn't deal with being a paraplegic. If it wasn't for Nick Wigston and Tommy H, my life could have been a lot different. Those guys saved my ass big time. Tommy soloed somewhere around 50 feet to set up a rope for me, and both of them stepped up big to evacuate me out of the gorge. I owe those guys my life. If they hadn't had the serious rescue skills that they did, I would have had to kayak the rest of the gorge and probably died or ended up a paraplegic.

If you end up back towards Boulder, Colorado give me a call. I know a great spinal doctor. 203-383-9368

Sorry about you back and feel better!
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Old 12-15-2009   #3
Forks Of Salmon, California
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 10

Thanks a bunch man that is the exact kind of info i'm looking for. It all looks pretty minor to me (not that I know anything) but it's good to hear from someone else. The doctors down here told me not to get out of bed for 90 days but that is obviously overkill. I feel fine walking and sitting although I know I shouldn't. Big drops are sketchy but with current designs and higher volume it's amazing what you can land flat off of. (not this drop however.) Again cheers for the input it's much appreciated! See you on the river,

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Old 12-15-2009   #4
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 501
Originally Posted by Rush View Post
Full writeup and pics here:

news :: [ river roots ] :: Nomads of Earth

I'm glad you are able and willing to discuss the accident and voice warnings for others. Certainly our bodies are not invensible. I pray you a full and permanent recovery. Keep on smiling and be thankful.

Best wishes,
No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 12-15-2009   #5
pnw, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,408
Sorry to hear about this, heal up.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 12-15-2009   #6
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 834
Wow! That was a close one. You can think of what happened as either unlucky or lucky. It seems pretty lucky to me that it wasn't worse. I broke my spine in my kayak too. It sucked donkeys. Mine was a different deal because my spine completely dislocated but the part about the fragment of bone broken off is familiar. My surgeon called the piece of bone "insignificant" and hopefully yours is nothing to worry about too.

Just take it as a warning shot from the river gods A little more pressure and you could have dislocated your spine, trashed your disc, injured your spinal cord... and then you would have been permanently damaged.

Listen to the doctors about not doing what you are not supposed to do and when you get physical therapy do all the reps. When you get cleared for everything then hit the gym hard and you'll be back in no time.

Good luck!!!
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Old 12-15-2009   #7
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,303
Sorry to hear that Rush. Wishing you a good recovery.

I've been there as well. I crushed my T11 on a 40 foot slide into a wall on Yule Creek. I was leaning way forward to brace for the hit, so it crushed the front about 20% and the back only about 5%. It was 4.5 months until I was back to doing anything (kayaking). The first month was brutal. Walking stairs is a challenge. Jumping is out of the question. The good news is you will be able to still get after it kayaking, as does christian. And you'll be throwin your weight forward off 5 footers out of fear.

Take your time in the healing process. I never wore a brace, since my doctor was more worried about the muscles around it getting weak, and thus reinjury. Thus my back was pretty locked up for much longer. It's been a few years now, and I'm finally at a point where I can keep it completely loose on a consistent basis. Extra stretching and popping helps. Feels like I have a slinky back. Pops all the time. A hell of a lot better than it was a few years ago, and it doesn't limit me much now.

You'll be back to it. Heal well.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 12-15-2009   #8
doesn't need a fake name
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 481
Get well soon Rush. My dad injured himself a lot (paragliding) and his advice was always to do exactly what the doctors said. If they say take it easy, do that. If they give you PT, do that. I'm glad that I haven't experienced this particular injury.
-leif (Anderson, not Embertson)
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