Forums: Skydiving: Tandem Skydiving:
Tandem with T12, L1, L2....


WatchYourStep  (D License)

Feb 11, 2013, 9:51 AM
Post #1 of 8 (1454 views)
Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... Can't Post

I am a tandem instructor and have a quick question....

Have a gentleman who is wheelchair bound with T12, L1, L2 and titanium steel rods in his back. He would love to do a tandem but is concerned with the opening shock from the canopy damaging the rods in his back. He will get a clearance from his doctor but was wondering if anyone out there (instructor or student) has had any experience with this?

Thanks for any help.

riggerrob  (D 14840)

Feb 11, 2013, 2:01 PM
Post #2 of 8 (1371 views)
Re: [WatchYourStep] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Go read the article on the Australian Parachute Federation's website about: tandems with paraplegics.

The Aussies concluded that after three years - in a wheelchair - most people have lost so mush bone mass that they are at a much higher risk of fractures.

stratostar  (Student)

Feb 11, 2013, 2:38 PM
Post #3 of 8 (1365 views)
Re: [WatchYourStep] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I know a number of experienced jumpers who became members of
"titanium steel rods in his back" club, all of them have gone on to jump without a problem due to the rods not handling opening shock. Everyone one of them was told by their doctors they would never jump again. The only one I know who was not able to handle returning was the dude who hit Sean Crossman.... he had a rebuilt hip & pelvis with rods and shit.

What Rob has to say about chair bound people is very much true. But I'm sure you already know that.

sky4meplease  (D 30360)

Feb 12, 2013, 2:10 AM
Post #4 of 8 (1299 views)
Re: [WatchYourStep] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not a doctor but if his says they will hold have him fill out a waiver, take him up with a canopy that has a few hundred jumps on it, open with the wind at your back if you can help it and HAVE FUN!

tkhayes  (D 18764)

Feb 12, 2013, 3:16 PM
Post #5 of 8 (1235 views)
Re: [WatchYourStep] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

there is some risk, but I have taken a few with rods in the middle of the back. The risk is greater if the rod is lower, (tailbone area) i.e. a hard landing on your butt can jar the rod and break vertebrae where the rod is attached.

In the middle of the back, there is more risk of whiplash, due to opening (I think) than risk of injury on landing, however unless you have gear that has a habit of opening hard once in a while, I think the risk is pretty low for injury.

go have fun, explain the risks to the customer and ask them if they think the risk of injury is worth it. Might help to ask their surgeon (if that is even possible) and explain the physics of the skydive to them. Often the doctor, or even a skydiver/surgeon/osteo someone you know might be able to shed a different perspective that you/I have not thought of.

shveddy  (D 30995)

Feb 13, 2013, 2:29 PM
Post #6 of 8 (1183 views)
Re: [tkhayes] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

My surgeon blinked, blinked again and told me that it really wasn't a good idea. But then again she has the double whammy of liability considerations and that she doesn't really have a good sense of how dangerous or safe skydiving can be. After all, her only encounter with me is putting me back together...

I then asked more conventional questions like "can I snowboard?" and "what about rock climbing?" She had no hesitations about these activities, and since skydiving done properly is probably less stressful on the body than these activities, I feel comfortable with my risks.

Of course it would be ber shitty if something really bad happens and there is enough force to turn the rods and screws into little chisels in your back, but thankfully the force necessary to do that seems to be on par with the force that it takes to break a normal back as well.

Think about the people who do sit-skis and the like. They have like 40 pounds of stuff strapped to their lower half and they are torquing it back and forth all day as they carve down the mountain. I imagine that is far more stressful than a normal skydive, especially in terms of the number of repeats.

So I think it's definitely more risky in the sense that a worst case scenario situation becomes even worse, but the odds of those sorts of scenarios seem to be fairly low as a general rule*.

I'm fused T12 through L4.

*only applicable to non-swoopers

tkhayes  (D 18764)

Feb 13, 2013, 4:19 PM
Post #7 of 8 (1173 views)
Re: [shveddy] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

the surgeon is comfortable about saying snow-boarding is OK because they are familiar with snowboarding.

they are not familiar with skydiving, ergo, you get different opinions. I never tell someone to ask their doctor if it is 'OK' for them to skydive given that the doctor probably knows fuck-all about skydiving.

I have the student (sometimes) have their doctor contact me, and I explain the physics of the skydive to the doctor in relation to: altitude in the plane, cramped spaces, exits, freefall speeds, what opening shock is like (and the whiplash effect potentially), the effects of the harness under canopy, and the landing - often with them watching YouTube videos at the same time along with me over the phone.

They get a better idea of the actual physics of the jump and can relate that to their patient's condition in real terms that you can them relate back as risk (or not) during the jump.

One consideration I always suggest to people with medical issues is that there is a 10-12 minute potential window once we leave the plane where if they have some medical emergency in the window that there is little if anything I can do for them.

So if you have a medical condition that can kill you in 10-12 minutes of having no medical attention, then perhaps skydiving is not a smart thing to do.

skydivingchad  (D 28984)

Feb 22, 2013, 5:04 PM
Post #8 of 8 (971 views)
Re: [WatchYourStep] Tandem with T12, L1, L2.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well I was a tandem instructor until I broke my back on May 13th while doing a tandem. T12, L1, L2 are now fused with screws and rods. My surgeon will not say anything about skydiving until my 1 year anniversery of my accident. I goto the gym 4 times a week and am doing very well.
From what I understand the parts of me that are fused are stronger than the parts that are not.
The final say in the matter is the tandem instructor as to whether or not they want to take on that liability and the student for the same reason.
Personally The surgeon better have a damn good reason to keep me out of the sky.

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