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Old 01-23-08, 11:41 AM   #1
theril
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Help Needed - general medical question

I am looking for some advice, and not quite sure on the best location to post. I apologize in advance to those that see this through the cross posts…

I am currently participating in a writing class, and have ridden for a while (blessedly) free of major injuries. The story I am developing focuses on a character that suffers a major accident during a mountain bike race (set in Colorado) – enough that he is told he “will/should never competitively ride again”.

Here is my question. What type of injury, or combination of injuries, would be enough to make a doctor reach that type of conclusion? The rider should still be able to recover (over time, with rehab, etc.)… My original thought was some form of back injury, where part of the spine would need to be fused … does this seem feasible, or are there any other suggestions?
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Old 01-23-08, 12:13 PM   #2
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Severe knee injuries end careers in a lot of sports but also allow recovery so the victim can function normally in non-competitive situations. You might want to check medical websites for details on orthopedic injuries to ensure that the details are true to life.
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Old 01-23-08, 12:44 PM   #3
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I'd go for a cracked neck vertebrae
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Old 01-23-08, 01:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theril View Post
he is told he “will/should never competitively ride again”.
To me, "competetively" is an important word in that phrase. As opposed to "never ride again"
I think of "never ride competetively" as some injury that makes a rider less able than the slowest
rider of the field. I imagine some injury that may cause joints to become inflamed with use, or
maybe a back problem that causes major difficulty in leaning over. The back problem could be
skeletal, muscular, of ligament damage. A head injury that damages the ability to balance could
be a factor.

Maybe a hip replacement. Have him in a bad wreck that begins a crack in the
socket joint. Dr's say take it easy, but he feels ok and wants to risk it to get the next win. A subsequent crash turns the joint connection to splinters. Follow up with
replacement surgery and rehab, etc..
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Old 01-23-08, 01:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theril View Post
Here is my question. What type of injury, or combination of injuries, would be enough to make a doctor reach that type of conclusion? The rider should still be able to recover (over time, with rehab, etc.)… My original thought was some form of back injury, where part of the spine would need to be fused … does this seem feasible, or are there any other suggestions?
A lot would depend on where you want to go with it and also how knowledgeable your readers are. And for that matter just what competition.

Knee or hip injury is appealing. There you have something that would NOT prevent a race or two, but training and anything looking like a racing career could be over.

Head/neck I don't like. While the risk of crash is higher racing it is far from non-existant in recreational riding. So it would impact the safety of any riding.

Back injury touches on history. It is entirely possible tha the best cyclist in history retired because of a nagging back issue. BUT between that injury and retirement were 9 Grand Tour wins (TDF, Giro and Vuelta) and 6 (out of a total of 7) Pernoid Super Prestige Trophy wins.

Of course if you want an eventual comeback then perhaps back is perfect, including a bit of inspiration from history.
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Old 01-23-08, 01:23 PM   #6
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Amputation?
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Old 01-23-08, 01:49 PM   #7
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Dead kidney, lung, hip, neck, Saul Raisin knocked his noggin in a crash and was told to never compete again so he is retired last I heard.
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Old 01-23-08, 02:25 PM   #8
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Dead kidney, lung, hip, neck, Saul Raisin knocked his noggin in a crash and was told to never compete again so he is retired last I heard.
With medical science so good nowadays- Almost any Injury can be overcome. Saul Raisin had to give up racing after brain damage in a crash. He got through it-got himself fit enough to get back racing- only to be told that any further accidents that involved a head injury- Might kill him or turn him into a cabbage for the rest of his life. No team is prepared to take the chance of that injury occuring so he has had to retire. He still rides but no longer competitively.
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Old 01-23-08, 04:19 PM   #9
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With medical science so good nowadays- Almost any Injury can be overcome. Saul Raisin had to give up racing after brain damage in a crash. He got through it-got himself fit enough to get back racing- only to be told that any further accidents that involved a head injury- Might kill him or turn him into a cabbage for the rest of his life. No team is prepared to take the chance of that injury occuring so he has had to retire. He still rides but no longer competitively.
I specified the Kidney, lung and head thing because in fact if you do lose one lung or kidney most doctors will advise you to take it easy as you only have one left and once it is gone, life really sucks or is not there at all. As to Saul he strikes me as the perfect case for the question of the OP as he did in fact have to retire due to his injury whether voluntary on his part or the liability fears of his teams.

Items medical science often cannot fix-
Brains
Spinal Chord
immune system
livers
lungs
kidneys
Hearts
(basically anything where a transplant is required is something they can't fix, they can replace but cannot fix, and event he replacement often leaves you at a lower level for the rest of your life)

Just ask any doctor coming back from Iraq about all the things medical science cannot fix. They do a lot, but we are still a long ways away from the "I can do anything to my body and expect a full recovery" era.
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Old 01-23-08, 04:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by theril View Post
I am looking for some advice, and not quite sure on the best location to post. I apologize in advance to those that see this through the cross posts…

I am currently participating in a writing class, and have ridden for a while (blessedly) free of major injuries. The story I am developing focuses on a character that suffers a major accident during a mountain bike race (set in Colorado) – enough that he is told he “will/should never competitively ride again”.

Here is my question. What type of injury, or combination of injuries, would be enough to make a doctor reach that type of conclusion? The rider should still be able to recover (over time, with rehab, etc.)… My original thought was some form of back injury, where part of the spine would need to be fused … does this seem feasible, or are there any other suggestions?
If it is or could be a downhill race, there are some spectacular possibilities.

Somewhere on the web (perhaps on youtube) there may be a video of a French downhill racer wiping out right in front of a nest of cameras.

Her accident was replayed over and over on European television.

There is also an interview with her, in the hospital after the accident.

She said she had broken most of the bones in her body in previous races. This one was different, though. She was seriously considering quitting for good. She said she did not want to be in wheelchair at forty.

She had serious internal injuries and back injuries.

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Paralysis from a neck or back injury is a possibility for your story. Chris Reeve fell off a horse, and landed on his head; his story is on the web.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Reeve#Injury

Some people with these sorts of injuries are able to come back, even after poor prognoses from doctors.

Recoveries from brain injuries also surprise doctors at times.

Good luck with it.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:32 PM   #11
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They tried to reattach his head and it wouldn't take.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:51 PM   #12
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How about a BMX race in Texas?

My spleen. It was "fractured" meaning that it was all but ruptured, the outer lining managed to hold together for about 2 weeks. When it let loose the organ had healed enough that it didn't quite kill me. I was in the critical care unit at Brookes Army Medical Hospital for a couple of days on a morphine drip and an OR waiting for me at all times, with my blood counts being constantly monitored.

I bled internally quite a lot, to where the pressure on my stomach allowed me to eat very little at a time. For a couple of months I was scheduled for a CT scan once a week, then every other week, then monthly for a while. I was told not to step on a ladder and to be extremely careful on stairs because the slightest fall could kill me before I could get to an ER.

I was actually not told to ride ever, but I was told that I wasn't to even look at a bike for a year. I was cleared about a year and a half later and raced one more season, where I took 2nd in Virginia for my class, with the class winner being 17, while I was 33. I crashed bad again the final championship race and finished with a concussion and some really nasty road (track) rash.

Ah, the good ol' stupid days.
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Old 01-23-08, 10:27 PM   #13
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Never compete again? I have a memory of a picture of a one legged contestant on a relay team in the '89' RAAM passing a man with no legs who was in the process of setting a record for crossing the USA on arm power. Short of being a quadriplegic There is alway some niche you could compete in. FYI the arm guy did it in 69 days. He also holds the record for walking across the USA on ones' hands, one year. A year or two later another guy who had won the LA wheelchair marathon cranked across the US in something like 18 days. I paced that dude in Death Valley one night. He was doing 18 MPH.
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Old 01-24-08, 09:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theril View Post
I am looking for some advice, and not quite sure on the best location to post. I apologize in advance to those that see this through the cross posts…

I am currently participating in a writing class, and have ridden for a while (blessedly) free of major injuries. The story I am developing focuses on a character that suffers a major accident during a mountain bike race (set in Colorado) – enough that he is told he “will/should never competitively ride again”.

Here is my question. What type of injury, or combination of injuries, would be enough to make a doctor reach that type of conclusion? The rider should still be able to recover (over time, with rehab, etc.)… My original thought was some form of back injury, where part of the spine would need to be fused … does this seem feasible, or are there any other suggestions?
I like some kind of head injury, maybe a severe concussion, because the effects of those are cumulative. A person could function normally, but it would be dangerous to risk further injury. Happens to football players all the time.
FWIW, I've made my living as a writer for 35 years, and I'd advise you to avoid constructions like "currently participating in." No editor is going to buy that. Just say, "I'm taking..." And it's "a character WHO," not "a character THAT."
I know that sounds picky, but I've been both a writer selling stories and an editor buying them, and that kind of stuff will have your manuscripts coming back every time.
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Old 01-24-08, 09:46 AM   #15
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How about another alternative? The injuried rider goes for the wheelchair wheels instead and reaches even higher levels of the sport, creating a new event: mountain bike wheelchair race.

New bike setup, new training techniques, neew everything.
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Old 01-24-08, 10:18 AM   #16
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Nerve damage will not heal. Nearly any other organ (lung, kidney, etc) can be transplanted or overcome to some extent. But nerve damage to legs would end riding for good.

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Old 01-25-08, 02:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theril View Post
I am looking for some advice, and not quite sure on the best location to post. I apologize in advance to those that see this through the cross posts…

I am currently participating in a writing class, and have ridden for a while (blessedly) free of major injuries. The story I am developing focuses on a character that suffers a major accident during a mountain bike race (set in Colorado) – enough that he is told he “will/should never competitively ride again”.

Here is my question. What type of injury, or combination of injuries, would be enough to make a doctor reach that type of conclusion? The rider should still be able to recover (over time, with rehab, etc.)… My original thought was some form of back injury, where part of the spine would need to be fused … does this seem feasible, or are there any other suggestions?
There is a neurologist, Oliver Sacks, who is also an excellent writer. Some of his books deal with brain-damaged patients.

There are many levels of interesting creative latitude possible with these sorts of patients and their injuries and courses of recovery.

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