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Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings?
 

UpstateBonehead  (C 45843)

Jan 22, 2015, 9:20 AM

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Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? Can't Post

Hi all:

Before I pose my question, a little background:

I'm a 49 year old male, 6', 200 lbs and still pretty in-shape for my age (hell, my live-in girlfriend of 4 years is 25 so...Wink). But, I did lead a pretty "rough" life in my youth (lots of head and neck injuries in sports and other less acceptable extracurricular activities).

I made my first tandem jump about a year ago, got hooked and started the student program making my way through to Solos.

In early October, I was on a solo jump (managed a couple of good (intentional) forward flips in freefall) when I had a VERY hard opening which left my arms and legs largely numb and unmovable under canopy at 3,000 feet (Thank God I had a good canopy; not sure I could have accomplished a cut-away).

I managed to get my hands into the toggles and flew the canopy back to the DZ. Landed into a perfect light steady breeze, promptly fell on my ass and thanked God I made it back.

Then the pain hit. I've played 7 minutes of American football on a broken leg and been beaten to unconsciousness by a drunk with a 2x4. Nothing compared to this pain. Every nerve was on fire (even my hair hurt).

15 hours in 2 different emergency rooms, x-rays, MRIs and CAT scans (the Dilauadid was nice tho Sly ) , a visit to my doctor and a visit to a spinal surgeon confirmed that I had fairly severe spinal stenosis at C5-C6 (not really caused by skydiving). The hard opening must have compressed the disks/spinal cord and the nerve roots, which caused the numbness and "shocking" sensation down arms and legs.

Truth be told, I kinda knew something was going on because I knew I had a blown disk in my neck (happened maybe 10 years ago) and my hands and arms were going numb with increasing regularity.

So, here I sit in a neck brace 2 weeks after a discectomy/spinal fusion surgery, including removal of bone spurs. Everything appears to be healing nicely, and most of the pain from the surgery is gone.

Prior to the surgery, I specifically discussed jumping again with my surgeon and he didn't seem to have any problem with me doing so (assuming the operation/recovery were successful).

So, I told you that story to ask this question:

Even if the doctor gives me the all clear to jump again (yeah, I know; I've thought about all the risks and will continue to do so until I let go of the strut the next time), I was considering some sort of low-profile neck brace (similar to what professional motorcycle and snowmobile drivers wear) to help mitigate the risk.

But, before I do so, I thought I would see if anyone has insight into the actual physics of a "hard opening."? It seems to me (admittedly, a novice) that the head's inertia in a hard opening would force the head/neck forward onto the chest. But, I guess I could envision a "whiplash" like scenario where the head gets forced backwards, thereby hyperextending the neck in a rearward direction. Can anyone shed some light on this?

Of course, I'll check with my Instructors/more experienced Jumpers at the DZ, but the DZ is closed for the winter!

Sorry for the long winded post.

Be well and safe.


(This post was edited by UpstateBonehead on Jan 22, 2015, 10:49 AM)

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Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? UpstateBonehead Send a private message to UpstateBonehead Jan 22, 2015, 9:20 AM
    Re: [UpstateBonehead] Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? kuai43 Send a private message to kuai43 Jan 22, 2015, 10:46 AM
        Re: [kuai43] Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? EChen22 Send a private message to EChen22 Jan 22, 2015, 11:54 AM
            Re: [EChen22] Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? wmw999 Send a private message to wmw999 Jan 22, 2015, 3:06 PM
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    Re: [UpstateBonehead] Neck Injuries and the Physics of Hard Openings? skydiverek Send a private message to skydiverek Jan 23, 2015, 2:41 AM
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