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Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps!

 

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Premier NWFlyer  (D License)

Aug 13, 2005, 10:51 PM
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Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! Can't Post

On my third (and final) jump of the day today, I did a high altitude hop & pop from 14,000 feet with three other jumpers. I did some no-contact CRW for a while with one of my fellow jumpers, then when he spiraled off, I did a bunch of drills to continue to get more comfortable with my canopy. Did a few spirals, but nothing aggressive or too spinny.

At about 4000 feet I started to feel a little "off." By 3000 feet I felt like I would either pass out or vomit. At around 1500 feet, I got into the general area where I thought I would start my landing pattern, planning to just hang out there, and try to keep it together until I got to the ground. That's the last thing I remember.

I woke up again at about 25 feet from the ground. I had (apparently) dropped my toggles, so I had just enough time to grab them and flare (I don't even think I got my hands through the loops, just grabbed and pulled). Despite this I landed, remarkably, without a scratch (PLFed it, or something like that - I didn't really have the presence of mind to do much else). I'm not sure why I woke up when I did, but I guess today wasn't my day to die or get hurt.

I lay on the ground for a few seconds catching my breath and realizing what a bullet I had just dodged. Got up, got my bearings, and realized i was in a large, open field, just to the north of the landing area. I had either had the presence of mind or it was just dumb luck to aim my canopy towards this field just as I passed out (I do remember thinking through "what would be my best option if I do pass out?" but I don't remember consciously taking any action.). I landed probably 2/3 of the way across the field.

Of course it was the talk of the DZ... I was peppered with questions. Was I dehydrated? Nope, had been drinking water all day. Was it low blood sugar? Might have been a minor contributing factor - this was at about 4 and I'd had a big breakfast at around 10:30. I was slightly hungry, but hardly starving. Was I prone to fainting? Nope. Had I been out partying the night before? Nope, quiet Friday night at the coffee shop and on my couch.

Nearest we could figure, I'd been in the harness too long with pretty tight leg straps, possibly cutting off circulation enough to limit the oxygen getting to my brain. I need to cinch the leg straps pretty tight on my rig to avoid having the chest strap hit me in the chin on opening. I'd done high altitude hop & pops before on this rig with no problem (4 or 5 total in my jumping career, I think, one just two weeks ago at Lost Prairie). Some combination of factors was working against me today.

In searching the forums, I found this post (http://www.dropzone.com/...ost=1098311;#1098311), which seems to be likely what happened to me today. I think in the future I'll either avoid extended periods of time in the harness or try to loosen my leg straps a bit if I'm going to be hanging for a long time. And, as the post I referenced suggests, try to move quite a bit more aggressively to keep the blood flowing. I haven't decided yet whether I will go to my doctor for a consultation, but at the very least this is something I will keep an eye on.

Anyone who has other ideas on how to prevent something like this from happening again (besides not jumping any more!), I'd be interested to hear them. Scary stuff, and I hope this can help prevent someone else from having to go through this.


(This post was edited by NWFlyer on Aug 14, 2005, 12:00 AM)


EvilLurker

Aug 13, 2005, 11:28 PM
Post #2 of 72 (7313 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, I've never heard of that. Glad you came out uninjured. When you're under canopy, do you stay perfectly erect in the harness? If so, try this: let your leg straps ride up the back of your thighs a little and lean back (raise your legs). It feels kinda weird the first few times you try it, but it's a lot more comfortable on long canopy rides (and it will help you get better wind penetration and glide ratio as a side benefit). At about 500 feet, straighten up and the straps will go right back where you want them. I wear my leg straps real tight, too, and this is my preferred method of flying. Maybe you already know this, if so, forgive me. Wink


Martini  (D 23756)

Aug 13, 2005, 11:52 PM
Post #3 of 72 (7303 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Bummer no one was there to give you mouth-to-mouth. I wondered why you dissappeared today. Glad you're ok.


tombuch  (D 8514)

Aug 14, 2005, 4:46 AM
Post #4 of 72 (7260 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never heard of that problem with a solo jumper in my 25 years of skydiving. Please take it very seriously.

Tandem students do pass out on occasion, generally because of the way the harness fits around their shoulders. Newer tandem harnesses (think Sigma) are designed to reduce this problem, and they do work. The thread you linked to also deals with tandem pass outs, and while the possibility of limited leg circulation could be a factor for you I highly doubt it is acting alone.

I strongly suggest you visit your doctor. What happened might be a very early sign of a much bigger problem. I can remember a few years ago I was visiting another drop zone and as I made my hard riser turn onto base leg the whole world started spinning. I landed well and was super frightened by the experience. The next day I was hit was the worst general sickness I have ever had in my life, and it seems the experience under canopy was just an advance warning. You have enough experience under canopy to know how your body reacts, and clearly what happened isn't normal for you or anybody. There might be a minor problem that will never bother you again, or it may be much more serious. Do have a medical check-out, and if nothing is found, at least it will probably make you more comfortable about what happened.

I'd also suggest you try a different harness with better padded and looser leg straps, or ask a master rigger if your chest strap can be moved lower to make your current harness a better fit. That will make those long canopy rides much more fun.
.


dragonfyr  (D 22012)

Aug 14, 2005, 7:28 AM
Post #5 of 72 (7203 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I need to cinch the leg straps pretty tight on my rig to avoid having the chest strap hit me in the chin on opening.

Sounds like the container does not fit you properly. Did you purchase the container used or did you buy it custom to fit you? A properly fitting container should not require you to cinch the straps that hard to keep the chest strap in place.

Don


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Aug 14, 2005, 7:38 AM
Post #6 of 72 (7200 views)
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Re: [dragonfyr] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
I need to cinch the leg straps pretty tight on my rig to avoid having the chest strap hit me in the chin on opening.

Sounds like the container does not fit you properly. Did you purchase the container used or did you buy it custom to fit you? A properly fitting container should not require you to cinch the straps that hard to keep the chest strap in place.

Don

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Try asking your local Master Rigger if he/she can re-size your harness for a better fit.


Premier NWFlyer  (D License)

Aug 14, 2005, 8:16 AM
Post #7 of 72 (7187 views)
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Re: [riggerrob] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

General reply to everyone ... thanks for the comments so far.

I appreciate your concern and will strongly consider a medical eval. Like you said - even if it's nothing, I've had it checked out. The more I think about it, though, the fact that I felt absolutely fine immediately upon landing (in other words, immediately after I removed the pressure on the leg straps) leads me to believe that the fit of the straps was the cause of the dizziness. But, perhaps a visit to the MD is in order just to be sure.

I bought the container used. For one that wasn't built for me it fits me pretty well, but I will definitely look into having it modified for a better fit. Until then I will avoid long harness rides or loosen the straps slightly and move them down my legs a bit so I "sit" rather than "hang" in the harness.


Cloudi  (C 35301)

Aug 14, 2005, 9:07 AM
Post #8 of 72 (7173 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

This may be a long shot, but you might also consider whether your alti strap was tight around your wrist or if you had anything tight around your ankles.

I almost passed out during a hop and pop awhile back during a canopy course (same symptoms you had: tunnel vision, nausea, light headedness). I didn't black out, but it was very close. I stood up my landing, but then quickly fell to the ground because I felt so weak. I loosened my leg straps (which is what I assumed was causing it) but still felt queasy. I was wearing my freefly pants that had bungee cord replacing the worn out elastic around my ankles. As soon as I loosened the cord, I immediately felt 100% better. Quite a disquieting experience.

Just something to consider, although it very likely could have been tight leg straps in your case. I think (note that I have no medical or biology background) that women are more susceptible to this from tight leg straps, especially those of us who are somewhat "voluptuous." Tongue


EvilLurker

Aug 14, 2005, 11:26 AM
Post #9 of 72 (7145 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Make sure you tell the doctor you were at 14,000 feet for quite a while, (that's a HIGH hop'n'pop) and that you did some spirals (positive G's) while in the tight harness, so he gets a good idea of the load you were putting on your circulatory system. I can see how it might have happened, you were really "driving" the blood down into your legs and were most likely a little low on oxygen. I think it could happen to anyone, if they get into the right combination of factors. It was pretty cold at 14,000 feet, correct? That causes the body to increase blood flow to the surface capillaries, which probably didn't help, either. Explain all that to your doctor and see what he thinks,
Ever seen jumpers at 14k with purple lips and fingertips? I have, and they're prime candidates for something like you're describing. Best of luck to you, I hope it's nothing more serious than a tight harness and slight hypoxia.

Quote:
Until then I will avoid long harness rides or loosen the straps slightly and move them down my legs a bit so I "sit" rather than "hang" in the harness.

That's worth a try, it really helps me out on long canopy rides. I have an Infinity with padded leg straps, though, if that makes any difference. They "pop" right back up my legs when I straighten up, so the first time you try this, make sure you go through the sequence a couple of times prior to your landing set-up, just in case and to get a "feel" for what it's like. I'm not sure how great an idea it is if you start feeling dizzy to be leaning back in your harness like that, you'll have to try it and decide.


USPA  (D 81812)

Aug 14, 2005, 11:28 AM
Post #10 of 72 (7142 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

You should consult your doctor ASAP!

I haven't got a clue, what the cause was, but being a medical student I can tell you it is highly unlikly you would pass out from tight legstraps. The body just doesn't work this way. Bloodflow is 1 of my specialties and although my knowledge isn't infinite (I learn every day), I just don't see it happening.


sunshine  (D License)

Aug 14, 2005, 6:55 PM
Post #11 of 72 (7049 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

I landed unconscious before. I beleive it was a combination of dehyrdation and exhaustion. I hadn't eaten much of anything that day. Then i had a funky opening that was a bit hard. I remember feeling loopy under canopy, then woke up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.


kelpdiver  (B 7)

Aug 14, 2005, 8:36 PM
Post #12 of 72 (7018 views)
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Re: [tombuch] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I've never heard of that problem with a solo jumper in my 25 years of skydiving. Please take it very seriously.

Never? It's come up a few times in the past 2 years in general or training.

I had a similar one on a 5.5 HnP. All the sensations, but I was able to stick with it until landing, and then spent a couple minutes recovering on the ground. Soon after I got serious about getting my own container with nice wide leg straps, though I did do two more jumps that day with the same rig.


skiskyrock  (A 45989)

Aug 14, 2005, 11:04 PM
Post #13 of 72 (6980 views)
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Re: [USPA] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

USPA-I'm not the right sort of doctor, but it seems like it could be orthostatic hypotension... g-load+ tight leg straps= pooling of blood in the legs leading to decreased volume and blood pressure. She may not have reacted well to the drop in BP or to the increased heart rate to compensate (hypoxia? beta blockers?).

Krisanne- glad you are all right. Any loss of conciousness not acompanied by an empty tequila bottle or new tatoo should probably be checked out by a doctor.


USPA  (D 81812)

Aug 15, 2005, 2:38 AM
Post #14 of 72 (6937 views)
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Re: [skiskyrock] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, pooling was the only possibility I could think of also, Ik know the venous system has the capability to pool large volumes off blood. But I would guess in order to pool such a large volume, which the heart and othere systems couldn't compensate would be easily visible because of very thick leggs (e.g. like in a rupture of the external iliac). But I could be wrong here. I also didn't thought of beta blockers or other farmaceuticals. Hypoxia though at 1500 (or 20 seconds before that) would seem to me highly unlikly?

But like I said, only a student and not studing for clinical practice.


Premier Tonto  (D 515)
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Aug 15, 2005, 6:04 AM
Post #15 of 72 (6881 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know much - but I know this has nothing to do with your leg straps.

The blood (and O2) to your brain come staight from the heart into the aorta, and then splits to the corotid arteries, the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

t


tombuch  (D 8514)

Aug 15, 2005, 6:58 AM
Post #16 of 72 (6846 views)
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Re: [Tonto] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I don't know much - but I know this has nothing to do with your leg straps.

The blood (and O2) to your brain come staight from the heart into the aorta, and then splits to the corotid arteries, the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.
Thatís not completely true. Iím an EMT, not a doctor, but Iíll try to explain the systems as best I can.

Think of the body as a huge vessel with arteries and veins that can increase in size or decrease in size, thus changing the actual capacity of the vessel. Now imagine the total maximum capacity of the vessels when dilated is 10 gallons of fluid, or six gallons when all the veins and arteries are constricted, but the body only has 8 gallons of blood. If all the blood vessels dilate at once, there will not be enough blood to fill the vessel, and the person will feel faint and may pass out.

Now imagine that instead of complete body dilatation, too much blood pools in the legs, so there isnít enough blood to circulate through the upper body. The effect is the same; the patient feels weak and may pass out.

It is possible for a person to have a circulatory problem that restricts blood return from the lower body, or neurological problems that alter the constriction or dilation of arteries and veins. These problems could be structural, or they may be generated by a problem in the brain.

Itís possible that the leg straps were pressing on arteries and veins causing a pooling of blood in the legs. Itís possible the leg straps were pushing on a nerve, reducing the brainís muscle control needed to return blood from the legs. Itís possible there is an abnormality in the brain that generated the problem.

Also consider that a reduction in circulatory effectiveness might combine with a reduction in the oxygen carrying capability of the hemoglobin. Things like malnourishment, fatigue, general hypoxia, carbon monoxide, could limit the blood oxygen levels, and if that combines with reduced circulation, loss of consciousness could occur.

When a person passes out under canopy it isnít normal. Something went wrong. It could be simple, or it could be complex. And it could happen again.

I think it is important to consider all possible factors, including leg straps. If that happened to me I would immediately speak with my doctor and ask for a cardio and neurological work up. I would be concerned that there was an underlying problem that might not have otherwise been detected, and that the early detection might increase treatment options. Of course it could just be a lack of breakfast, cold temperatures, excitement, some CO ingested while waiting for the airplane, lack of lower body movement, and a variety of other very normal factors.

My hunch is that a full medical work up would find nothing, and that the problem will not repeat, but all factors, including leg straps should be considered.
.


Premier Tonto  (D 515)
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Aug 15, 2005, 8:06 AM
Post #17 of 72 (6806 views)
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Re: [tombuch] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right, of course.

I do wonder how these restrictive leg straps allow blood flow into the legs but not out of the legs. I understand the positive G aspect, but it still seems unlikely to me. I have spent a lot of time at altitude, and a lot of time in harnesses, both climbing (Sometimes hours in hanging belay) and doing CRW. I've never experienced anything remotely like this in 20 years, and I know no-one who wears their legstraps tighter than mine.

As I said though.. I don't know much beyond my personal experiences.

t


GiaKrembs  (D License)

Aug 15, 2005, 8:35 AM
Post #18 of 72 (6789 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, glad to hear that you made it to the ground safe....

About two years ago, I had a very similar situation.... At about 2k I started feeling very faint, and was terrified I wasn't going to make it to the ground conscious. I kept taking very deep breaths and telling myself "you cannot pass out, you cannot pass out"... pretty freaky Crazy

take care, g


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
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Aug 15, 2005, 9:07 AM
Post #19 of 72 (6769 views)
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Re: [GiaKrembs] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

>At about 2k I started feeling very faint, and was terrified I wasn't
> going to make it to the ground conscious. I kept taking very deep
> breaths and telling myself "you cannot pass out, you cannot pass out"...

You can also use the Valsalva manuever to temporarily increase your blood pressure (if that's the problem.) It will only give you 5-10 seconds of increase, but if that's all you need, it can help.

It's helped me on occasion. When I have to crouch for a long time in an airplane, and then exit, often I get hypoxia as all that deoxygenated blood hits my brain. The Valsalva manuever seems to help a bit; more blood pressure = slightly more oxygen.


Premier NWFlyer  (D License)

Aug 15, 2005, 9:11 AM
Post #20 of 72 (6765 views)
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Re: [billvon] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
You can also use the Valsalva manuever to temporarily increase your blood pressure (if that's the problem.) It will only give you 5-10 seconds of increase, but if that's all you need, it can help.

It's helped me on occasion. When I have to crouch for a long time in an airplane, and then exit, often I get hypoxia as all that deoxygenated blood hits my brain. The Valsalva manuever seems to help a bit; more blood pressure = slightly more oxygen.

So Bill, care to tell us what the maneuver is? Or am I gonna have to Google? Wink


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
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Aug 15, 2005, 9:15 AM
Post #21 of 72 (6761 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

>So Bill, care to tell us what the maneuver is?

Sorry. There's two ways to do it. Pinch your nose and blow; this also helps with pressurizing your sinuses after a jump (or during descent while diving.) Or just close your nose and mouth internally and blow hard.


Premier NWFlyer  (D License)

Aug 15, 2005, 9:24 AM
Post #22 of 72 (6755 views)
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Re: [billvon] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
>So Bill, care to tell us what the maneuver is?

Sorry. There's two ways to do it. Pinch your nose and blow; this also helps with pressurizing your sinuses after a jump (or during descent while diving.) Or just close your nose and mouth internally and blow hard.

Thanks... I know exactly what you're talking about from scuba but had never heard it called that. Also didn't realize that it helped increase the oxygen... just used it to help with pressurization of the ears.


JohnRich  (D License)

Aug 15, 2005, 11:53 AM
Post #23 of 72 (6693 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you smoke? (Thinking of possible reduced lung capacity combined with long exposure at high altitude with thin air.)


ladyskydiver

Aug 15, 2005, 12:00 PM
Post #24 of 72 (6690 views)
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Re: [NWFlyer] Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was going to PM this but thought better of it as it could play a factor in your loss of consciousness and if it is a factor, other women might be wise to just keep it in the back of their head. Is it that time of the month? Blood loss from that could, also, play a factor in your loss of consciousness.


Premier NWFlyer  (D License)

Aug 15, 2005, 1:26 PM
Post #25 of 72 (6644 views)
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Re:Passed out under canopy: watch those leg straps! [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Do you smoke? (Thinking of possible reduced lung capacity combined with long exposure at high altitude with thin air.)

Not a smoker, never have been.

In reply to:
I was going to PM this but thought better of it as it could play a factor in your loss of consciousness and if it is a factor, other women might be wise to just keep it in the back of their head. Is it that time of the month? Blood loss from that could, also, play a factor in your loss of consciousness.

Nope, not that time of month, either.


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