early season safety thread - concussions - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-21-2010   #1
 
Preston H.'s Avatar
 
Denver, Colorado
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early season safety thread - concussions

I thought I would share this in hopes it will help someone stay safe this season. Many of us here donít have any experience with concussions from paddling.

Last Saturday, I took a big hit to the head and left arm in Gore rapid just below decision. I had not taken a knock like that since my early days kayaking, or maybe even since I played football. I rolled up and, after a couple minutes in an eddy, headed downstream with the rest of the group. I finished the run without incident and had a great time doing it.

One of my friends and I had planned to paddle the canyon again on Sunday, so we camped at the takeout Saturday night. I felt a bit rattled that evening, but had no headache, dizziness, or anything else that would indicate something was wrong with my brain. My appetite for food was huge, and I slept great.

Around first light, I got out of my tent. I saw a few stars, but wrote it off to just going quickly from lying on the ground to standing. However, I started to notice over the course of the morning that I was a little disoriented and uncoordinated. Not much, just a little off.

When late morning came around and it was time to meet up with the group, I told my friend I would not be paddling that day. I had a really hard time doing this because I thought I should just suck it up, and I worried that he and the rest of the group would think I was scared or lame for backing out. Still, a little voice inside told me to just go home. I set shuttle for everyone and began the drive home.

On the way, strange things started happening. It was more difficult than usual to control the vehicle. On a few occasions, I realized that I had not been focusing on the road for a couple seconds. I got very tired. In retrospect, I realize that I should not have been driving.

When I got home, I just felt weird Ė not myself. While explaining to my wife what had happened, it became obvious that I was having trouble stringing the right words together, and I was speaking slowly. I went to see a doctor.

I had a mild concussion, of course. I learned that it can take time Ė up to 48 hours after the trauma Ė for the brain to swell enough to give rise to the symptoms of a concussion. That night, I started getting ringing in the ears. Today, four days later, I am still experiencing balance problems and having trouble focusing.

My concussion has not been a major problem, but it would have been had I paddled again on Sunday. Besides the risk of hitting my head again, which could have resulted in big time damage, I was much less than 100%. My coordination and judgment were off. Not only is it a bad idea to risk further injury, itís wrong to impose on a group and make them deal with your problems. Itís much better to take a hit to your ego.

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Old 04-21-2010   #2
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Glad you are improving. Isnt it funny that when you shouldnt be driving that you want to more than ever? Tore my pec muscle loose while paddling years ago and drove home. The gravel road intensified the pain after the adrenaline died down and I almost passed out several times while driving. Seemed like getting home was very important but I should have parked it and gotten a ride. Very tough to make the right decision at those times.
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Old 04-21-2010   #3
 
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I'm the friend, above. From a 3rd-party standpoint, Preston looked a little rattled in the eddy below gore, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary for a hit to the gourd. He seemed fine in camp, and still seemed fine the next morning. Since I didn't notice anything wrong with him, I thought most of it was just in his head, and that he was jittery about running gore again. I also didn't give the fact that he was driving back to denver on his own a second though. In hindsight, the symptoms were a lot more subtle than I would have expected, and things could have gotten bad if he would have ran down with us.
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Old 04-21-2010   #4
 
Denver, Colorado
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Bummer Preston.

What kind of helmet were you wearing? What kind of foam or padding does it have?

My observation is that hard/stiff helmets with basic foam padding can transmit a lot of energy from a hit to your head and neck. Helmets with energy absorbing paddling, and a shell that can deform when it gets hit will lessen the amount of energy transmitted to the head.

Might also want to check your helmet for cracks or damage. Your helmet might need to be retired if it sustained some damage.

Hope you feel better.
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Old 04-21-2010   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Bummer Preston.

What kind of helmet were you wearing? What kind of foam or padding does it have?

My observation is that hard/stiff helmets with basic foam padding can transmit a lot of energy from a hit to your head and neck. Helmets with energy absorbing paddling, and a shell that can deform when it gets hit will lessen the amount of energy transmitted to the head.
It was an older Shred Ready - standard stiff helmet with a layer of minicell and the extra minicell I added to fit it to my head. No major damage to the helmet. Just a mark where the impact was.
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Old 04-21-2010   #6
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Yeah, I was there as well and saw the upside pummeling in the mank right channel just below indecision. Gore was super low and the flip and rock hits were fairly low speed and looked like kind of your standard Colorado mank beatdown. Although he indicated in the eddy below that he took a good hit to shoulder and head and his nerves felt a little rattled, nothing else indicated a problem. He styled the rest of the run. It's good to know that it can take 48 hours for symptoms to show up though. I always thought they became apparently shortly after the incident. That's also a good reminder that any square hit on the head can cause problems.

Preston, sorry to hear the injury was more severe than just a bump. It seems to me like you used sound judgment all around even though you were the guy with the head injury. I also recall at the takeout you turned down some asprin/ibuprofen because you wanted to see if you developed any symptoms - seems like a smart move.
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Old 04-21-2010   #7
 
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Concussions are bad. What brand of helmet(s) ha sbeen shown to minimize the risk of concussions? Preston, I hope you feel better soon. Did the doctors tell you when you could come back out and play?
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Old 04-21-2010   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackshire View Post
Did the doctors tell you when you could come back out and play?
Doctor said 2 weeks is fine. I read somewhere that 7-10 days is typical recovery time fort a mild concussion.
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Old 04-21-2010   #9
 
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Didja get a brain cat scan? Don't use aspirin advil or alleve just tylenol to prevent bleeding.
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Old 04-21-2010   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Preston H. View Post
It was an older Shred Ready - standard stiff helmet with a layer of minicell and the extra minicell I added to fit it to my head. No major damage to the helmet. Just a mark where the impact was.
If the hit was hard enough to give you a concussion you should buy a new helmit. 5 years or 1 good hit you should replace any helmet that's all they are good for.
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