Jan 8, 2012, 5:50 PM
Post #1 of 11
T8 Compression Fracture
Hello everyone!I just wanted to share my experience and ask for any advice, input, etc.
On October 7, 2011 I started my AFF, and on October 22, 2011 (my C jump), I landed far too hard, suffered a T8 Compression Fracture and had T6-T10 Posterior Fusion. After 8 weeks in a brace, i'm now in week 3 of P/T and healing well!
My family thinks I'm crazy for wanting to jump after such an ordeal, but I'm convinced that I made a stupid mistake and will learn from it and go on to become a licensed skydiver.
My surgeon tells me I should be able to return to jumping as soon as the summer of 2012, which excites me to no end!
I will, of course monitor and listen to my body, but I'm super excited to get back into the sky!
Listen to your doctor(s). You’ve had some bad damage done and it could possibly be made worse during the course of skydiving activities. I had a C5-7 fusion with a hip implant and titanium plate after a skydiving accident and continued to skydive after. I have since torn my spinal cord at C8 from a rear-end car accident and am presently recovering from that. You’ve got to be careful that as a result of your present fusion, your back is not in a position to be further damaged above and/or below the repaired area during another possible shock of some sort. Monitor your condition closely and keep in touch with your doctors if you have any concerns.
Since you've said nothing about the cause of your accident any input will be based on speculation.
13 years experience as a full time skydiver tells me that it's likely you may have either had an incomplete flare or flared high and let the canopy surge into the ground with out the benefit of a complete flare. It is also likely that you picked you feet up and struck tailbone first, something especially common if you had done a tandem(s) before AFF.
To prevent this sort of thing, a) ensure a complete flare prior to landing no matter what.
b) keep your eyes out on the horizon to improve your chances of getting the timing right. you really don't need to see when and where your feet are going to touch the ground. We've failed to leave anyone up there yet, so judge your flare by your relative position to the horizon.
c) Prior to touch down keep your legs below you and slightly bent. You will benefit from the protection of a PLF. You much rather hurt your legs than your spine. Additionally get comfortable with the concept a parachute landing should not be you "catching" yourself with your legs, but rather lowering yourself to the ground using the canopy and your arms. This way when you're prepared for the PLF, but find your flare timing has worked our properly you simply step down the 12 inches you find remaining.
Good luck. Relax and don't let previous history rule your actions. If it would make you feel more comfortable ask for one size up in parachute size for your first couple jumps back.
Actually, I started to flare, and once I realized that my radio wasn't placed on my ear correctly, making it difficult to hear my instructor, I lost focus! For mere seconds! By the time I realized I had lost focus, it was too late! I had let up the little bit of Flare I started and smacked the ground!
Before you jump again, have a lengthy conversation about timing your own flare on your own.
Hint: at Pitt Meadows, we tell students to wait until their feet are level with the six foot tall fence around two sides of the DZ.
I have heard numerous students complain that their radios quit at 100 feet. Meanwhile, other students - who were walking back - reported that their radios worked fine and they could even hear the "defective" radio just before it touched down.
The real problem is that students go deaf and suffer tunnel vision when they get scared.
The more ground school, and the more jumps, the lower your fear and the broader your hearing, vision, memory, etc.
Excellent suggestion! Thanks. I plan on talking to my DZO about retaking the AFF class prior to jumping this summer as well as attending Safety Day (even though I won't be able to jump when the rest of them begin). I'm told my DZO may even require me to retake the class, which is fine with me!