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Recovery time after severe crash.

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Recovery time after severe crash.

Old 11-17-19, 10:32 PM
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Recovery time after severe crash.

Dear fellow avid +50 cycling crowd. On 11/10/19 I tried to avoid a collision with a pair of rapidly approaching barking dogs in the same shoulder, opposite direction, about 100 feet away. . I was riding in the sweet zone: speed 45 km/hr tail cross wind 5-7 mph. I chose to out run them by accelerating on my Colnago C60 to 50-51 km/hr. As I looked up, a fraction of a second later there they were, blocking my sprinting line! I chose to run over them at worst case scenario. I passed out after that, waking up on an ambulance stretcher in the ambulance with an oxygen mask and the medic placing a neck immobilizer. I was then transported to a Level 1 Trauma ER and after x rays and CTs, a pneumothorax with a developing hemothorax was treated with a Wayne 14 Fr chest tube, helping to relief the 20-30% right middle lobe pneumothorax. I was hurting all over: right ribs #1-9 fractured, #8 displaced. Comminuted right scapula fracture, Labrum fracture.
Im wearing a shoulder immobilizer now, ready for discharge ASAP and God willing.
Anyone else has anything to share, wether from personal experience or word of mouth? The pulmonologist and trauma surgeon have forbidden cycling in any manner indefinitely, due to my age, soon to be 60, and severity of trauma, including loosing consciousness for about 15-20 minutes, or so, as I was told.


No apparent major frame fork damage or scratches. The handlebar tape ripped a little, saddle cover intact. Both wheels intact no flats and chain came off on impact with asphalt.
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Old 11-18-19, 03:41 AM
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I had a serious motorcycle accident about 6 years ago. Broke my clavicle in two places, broke my scapula, and 3 ribs. I was off work for over 3 months but part of that was that I had to wait for skin injuries to heal before they could do surgery on my clavicle, and then that was postponed for several more weeks due to the surgeon having an emergency call. After surgery it was a while before they started me on physical therapy and by that time, I could barely move my arm because it had atrophied so badly. It was a few weeks of PT before I could drive.

I'm sure it would have been a lot faster without the delays but still a long time. All I could say for advice is do all the PT they tell you to do and more. That will minimize the recovery time. Good luck with the healing.
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Old 11-18-19, 03:54 AM
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I'm sorry about your accident. I hope that you heal quickly. I would say just focus on your recovery in PT, then bicycle when you're allowed to.
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Old 11-18-19, 05:25 AM
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As bad as it was, it could have been much worse. Glad you survived. Everyone heals differently, but in general it takes longer the older you are. Im four weeks out of surgery for a major RC tear, labrum reattachment, debridement, etc. Just now getting some use of that arm. Starting PT tomorrow. Not sure when Ill be back on a road bike. Several months at least. Take your time and follow your PT plan. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

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Old 11-18-19, 05:28 AM
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Geez. That’s a lot to deal with. How do they handle a displaced rib?
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Old 11-18-19, 05:43 AM
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Recovery time after severe crash.
Originally Posted by 1AvidCyclistCat View Post
Dear fellow avid +50 cycling crowd. On 11/10/19 I tried to avoid a collision with a pair of rapidly approaching barking dogs in the same shoulder, opposite direction, about 100 feet away

I’m wearing a shoulder immobilizer now, ready for discharge ASAP and God willing.

Anyone else has anything to share, wether from personal experience or word of mouth? The pulmonologist and trauma surgeon have forbidden cycling in any manner indefinitely, due to my age, soon to be 60, and severity of trauma, including loosing consciousness for about 15-20 minutes, or so, as I was told.

No apparent major frame fork damage or scratches. The handlebar tape ripped a little, saddle cover intact. Both wheels intact no flats and chain came off on impact with asphalt.
Hi @1AvidCyclistCat

That’s quite a detailed description of the crash, and medical follow-up. I’m replying not to one-up your experience, but since you asked. I too lost conciousness briefly,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...My first recollection was the assemblage of first responders with their vehicles to put me on a board to the nearest Hospital, with vivid memories after that, including airlift to a major Medical Center, the six week Hospital stay, and three-month rehab until I returned to work.



I have further previously posted:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Coping with injuries and setbacks, how do you do it?"

...I have been cycle commuting, road riding and cycle-touring since about 1972...truly a lifestyle. I was hit by a car in June 2012, and was hospitalized for six weeks, off work for three months, and off the bike for five months, during one of the best cycling summers ever. I was torn from my cycling lifestyle, as well as other activities, like work, family life, and hobbies.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...My main injury besides a few minor broken bones was a fractured sacrum. Weight bearing activities such as walking a distance and prolonged sitting are [still] uncomfortable, but fortunately sitting on the bike seat is OK, even for a few hours.

I also lost some upper thigh muscle due to a soft tissue injury...
I just had to be patient and take time to heal, which was itself a consuming task. One-by-one I resumed the various activities, cycling being the last.

Going back to work certainly hastened the process, especially since cycle-commuting was a viable activity, as part of work. I am more enthusiastic about riding than ever, and may even be a better rider now too.

During that summer I kept up with Bike Forums, and got a lot of support from various subscribers, some with whom I had corresponded on or off the Board. I had had so much cycling experience over the years, that I always found topics to chat about.

BTW, this was one of my hospital experiences that gave me hope for the future:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…You pointedly asked for an inspirational story. I myself suffered the trauma of a rear end collision on my bike. I was in an acute care hospital for about two weeks, rehab hospital about four weeks, off work for three months and off the bike for five. But don’t cry for me. Argentina.

Here’s a rehab story I learned of, almost as a mystical experience. It's also about trauma, but IMO holds out the hope of healing when things seem bleak.

When I was about two weeks into my hospital stay, I was watching an un-named, circa early 1950's black-and-white movie with the sound off because my roomate was asleep. It seemed to be a romance, with Glenn Ford and Anne Baxter. A scene came on where they were driving in a car and had a sudden collision, and Glenn threw himself in front of Anne. He awoke in a hospital bed, and she was OK.

The following scenes showed him gradually recovering, as he tried to get out of bed with a trapeze bar, then walk with a cane. Soon, he strangely, and surreptiouously from Anne Baxter, slipped away to a golf course and tried to hit some balls. She was obviously mad at him when he got back (all this still with the sound off.)

Then there appeared on screen a newspaper headline that Ben Hogan was going to participate in an upcoming major golf tournament.

It turns out that the movie was “Follow the Sun,” a 1951 biopic of Ben Hogan. I looked him up on Wikipedia, especially about the accident and found this:

Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Hogan and his wife, Valerie, survived a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a fog-shrouded bridge, early in the morning, east of Van Horn, Texas on February 2, 1949. Hogan threw himself across Valerie in order to protect her, and would have been killed had he not done so, as the steering column punctured the driver's seat.

This accident left Hogan, age 36, with a double-fracture of the pelvis, (I had a fracture of the sacrum) a fractured collar bone, a left ankle fracture, a chipped rib, and near-fatal blood clots: he would suffer lifelong circulation problems and other physical limitations. His doctors said he might never walk again, let alone play golf competitively. While in hospital, Hogan's life was endangered by a blood clot problem, leading doctors to tie off the vena cava. Hogan left the hospital on April 1, 59 days after the accident.

After regaining his strength by extensive walking, he resumed golf activities in November 1949. He returned to the PGA Tour to start the 1950 season, at the Los Angeles Open, where he tied with Sam Snead over 72 holes, but lost the 18-hole playoff.”
This episode gave me a first glimmer of hope that I would be on the bike again…
BTW, I was only slightly older than you at the time of my crash.

PS: I just recalled that I did have a chest tube for a short amount of time in the immediate aftermath.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-18-19 at 03:54 PM. Reason: added PS
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Old 11-18-19, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 1AvidCyclistCat View Post
Im wearing a shoulder immobilizer now, ready for discharge ASAP and God willing.
Anyone else has anything to share, wether from personal experience or word of mouth? The pulmonologist and trauma surgeon have forbidden cycling in any manner indefinitely, due to my age, soon to be 60, and severity of trauma, including loosing consciousness for about 15-20 minutes, or so, as I was told.
No, just words of encouragement. It could happen to anyone (and I'm thinking of a particular dog on my route). Godspeed and heal well.
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Old 11-18-19, 02:23 PM
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I had a similar accident several years ago, with cracked ribs, pneumothorax and chest tube, etc. I was doing short rides on my upright 3-speed after a couple weeks. Didn't get on the road bike for at least a month, and didn't feel fully recovered for more than a month after that. I didn't have any loss of consciousness or shoulder injury (that time, at least ), though. At least it happened at the end of the season!
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Old 11-18-19, 02:48 PM
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Yeah, all of that this June but only 3 of the ribs were broken and no unconsciousness. A week from birthday 60. I didn't go directly to ER though, I went home hoping not knowing how bad it was and tried to sleep it off.


It was a couple of weeks before I started riding again, just commutes nothing long or strenuous. The road bike position was actually less painful on the ribs than regular walking around and sitting, although the shoulder and clavicle can be problematic if you're stressing them with leaning on the bars.


A couple of months before I got to actually strenuous exercise, and it's been a struggle to regain the lost conditioning.


The labrum tear in my shoulder still hurts and weakens me, after 5 months, but I've put off anything more than a steroid shot and MRI. It may need surgery and more recovery.
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Old 11-18-19, 03:05 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to share your story- best of luck with your recovery
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Old 11-18-19, 06:27 PM
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I really, really dislike irresponsible dog owners.

My one serious crash (blown tire on a descent) had me with several broken ribs, a minor pneumothorax, and a clavicle broken in two places. The good news is that bones heal. I recovered completely from those injuries.

I really think the only issues for you are going to be (1) the soft tissue injuries and (2) the head injury.

For the soft tissue injuries, get the best doc you can and a second opinion besides. Do what they and your PT tells you to do and you should recover and be mostly yourself again.

I would explore the head injury a little further, and again get second (and perhaps third) opinions about that the damage is and whether or not you really need to give up cycling.

In other words, I would not give it up unless it was CLEAR that I had to ... and not without a fight.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
…I really think the only issues for you are going to be (1) the soft tissue injuries and (2) the head injury.

For the soft tissue injuries, get the best doc you can and a second opinion besides. Do what they and your PT tells you to do and you should recover and be mostly yourself again...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m replying not to one-up your experience, but since you asked. I too lost conciousness briefly…
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...My main injury besides a few minor broken bones was a fractured sacrum. Weight bearing activities such as walking a distance and prolonged sitting are [still] uncomfortable, but fortunately sitting on the bike seat is OK, even for a few hours.

I also lost some upper thigh muscle due to a soft tissue injury...
I’m replying further, not with medical advice per se, but from a sucessful recovery based on sound medical advice. My wife and her best friend, both nurses, really kept on top of me, especially about my nutritional needs for protein despite my anorexia, and need to walk. I was plied with milkshakes, and the only food I had any kind of appetite for was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

I didn’t recognize from your OP the specific soft tissue injuries you sustained, but mine included a few surgeries to correct, and the work of the plastic surgeon was widely praised by his colleagues, especially to avoid a skin graft. Nonetheless,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
... I also lost some upper thigh muscle due to a soft tissue injury and had a draining wound that made me dependent on someone to change my dressing until October [five months later].
I was really convinced to get protein when he showed me the results of a pre-albumin lab value, a test of nutritional status, that was profoundly low.

My angels of mercy also got me walking as often as possible, first for brief rounds on the Hospital corridors, outside at the rehab hospital, and for a few blocks in our neighborhood. Fortunately, Kenmore Square is a very interesting neighborhood to stroll, though these walks were reluctantly taken.

Finally I had such excellent PT in hospitals, at home, and as an outpatient, with knowledgeable advice, and specialized machines to work out. Even when I returned to work at my job I tried to regularly for a few months perform the prescribed excercises. To this day I still recall the advice of my first therapist every time I get up from a chair, the way she explained.

I write not to dwell on my experience, but hopefully to advise and encourage you or others, and frankly for the satisfaction of reviewing that life-changing event and recovery for myself.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-18-19 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 11-18-19, 10:43 PM
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That's a rough accident. Glad it wasn't any worse.

To be honest, you should expect a year to recover. I'll be 62 this week. In May 2018 I was hit by a car. Second time. First was 2001, which broke my back and neck in six places. That took a full decade to recover. I was walking with a cane until 2014. I resumed cycling in 2015 after working up to it gradually with long walks.

My injury last year after being hit by a car took more than a year to recover, and I'll always have a permanent shoulder and neck injury.

Physical therapy is a daily routine now. At a minimum I do massage and stretching. For a couple of months this spring and summer I was in PT at a nearby clinic 3 times a week. Now I work out at home twice a week, mostly body weight calisthenics. I ride 3-4 times a week, averaging 150 miles a week.

My main hindrance to rides longer than 20-30 miles is still neck and shoulder pain. That won't improve. I'm not sure I'd accept surgery even if it was recommended. Too risky for the neck.

BTW, that RXL handlebar must be pretty tough. I was considering one for a bike I'm building up. It just moved up on my list of components to consider.
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Old 11-19-19, 03:51 AM
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Apologies to all who have heard this story before. On July 24, 2013 I was on a group ride with my club. As we were slowing to about 15 mph to make a right turn, I hit a pot hole which jammed my hand on the front brake lever. I face planted, the result of which was a broken neck. I spent 8 days in hospital and had two 5-hr. operations to fuse C1 & C2. I also had a couple other vertebrae fractures, chipped teeth that went through upper and lower lips, and a few other relatively insignificant injures. I was 67 at the time. I was home on August 1st. I did what the docs told me to do to heal. Around mid-November I was back on the bike on a local rail/trail. Listen to the medical professionals. Good luck.
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Old 11-19-19, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Apologies to all who have heard this story before. On July 24, 2013 I was on a group ride with my club. As we were slowing to about 15 mph to make a right turn, I hit a pot hole which jammed my hand on the front brake lever. I face planted, the result of which was a broken neck. I spent 8 days in hospital and had two 5-hr. operations to fuse C1 & C2. I also had a couple other vertebrae fractures, chipped teeth that went through upper and lower lips, and a few other relatively insignificant injures. I was 67 at the time. I was home on August 1st. I did what the docs told me to do to heal. Around mid-November I was back on the bike on a local rail/trail. Listen to the medical professionals. Good luck.
That is my nightmare. Not really going that fast, no involvement with an auto ... just odd circumstances that has you getting a terrible injury. OMG.

That you escaped without permanent injury is inspiring.
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Old 11-19-19, 09:13 AM
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Wow! Listening to some of these crash stories makes yesterday's collision with another cyclist seems like getting a scratch on a finger. But we both survived, with a few bruises and sore ribs, and the bikes made out quite well, other than I have to replace the bar tape.
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Old 11-19-19, 10:43 AM
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PCS (Post Cuncussion Syndrome) is no joke. Accident 3/19/19. No broken bones but lots of contusions and sprains and a concussion. The docs do not want you back on the bike and risk another concussion until fully recovered from the first. As I understand it that can be EXTREMELY bad.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:20 PM
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I would try to get a doctor who rides, or who at least does some kind of exercise strenuously.

I have seen a lot of these stories, and in most, the doctors recommend never getting off the couch, and wearing a seatbelt while on the couch--and a helmet. Most doctors are so convinced that only by swaddling people in bubble-wrap, can t[patients survive, they have no idea that Quality of life is the prime motivator---people live longer and better if they like their lives.

never ride again? Well, sure ... because you could crash and die ... or you could stay home and watch TV and die, or die driving to the bike shop ... or the the doctor's. On the other hand lots of people who have had severe head trauma have recovered and do just fine. As for physical frailty ... best defense is exercise.

I definitely recommend going Really slowly, doing all the PT, and all that ... but most doctors seem to be afraid of life, and even more afraid of death. They Always seem to recommend staying indoors, breathing filtered air, drinking purified water, and eating only oatmeal.

On the other hand, an athlete doctor will understand that some people are a lo more healthy and alive when they are active, and will work out a sensible program to get you back to your chosen activity at a reasonable pace. And such a doctor would be a lot more likely to tell you if you really couldn't do what you loved, and might suggest safe alternatives, because s/he would understand how important exercise and activity was for some people.

If you cannot find a suitable doctor, then do what your doctor says, but don't listen to him if you are sure you can do a little more, eventually ... listen Very closely to your body, and quit way before you think you need to .... build very slowly if you are the sort that gets over-excited and enthusiastic.

I lost a lot of fitness after a broken collarbone which I rebroke twice because I refused to let it heal completely before exercising. I finally decided not to let my courage, but my fears, moderate my exercise ... so i am still just regaining what I had lost .... but at least I am making solid progress now. Just building a base of fitness took several months ... but now I am at least fit enough to start getting fit.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:36 PM
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Wow, so many of you have been through hell. As for the thread starter, since you clearly seem to have a background in healthcare of some sort, I am pretty sure you know that what is likely to slow you most in terms of comfort is the rib situation. As far as your brain goes, if your scans are all negative and you are not symptomatic after, say, a couple of weeks, then there really is no neurosurg/neuro basis to keep you off the bike. If you are symptomatic in any way, though, obviously that's a non-starter and you must not ride.

Wishing you all the best. There's an old saying where I trained in general surgery that goes: If you don't think it can get any worse, you're wrong. It can get way, way worse."

Unfortunately, in the trauma business, I do believe that is true. So, I am grateful your injuries were not even more severe. And I wish you a quick recovery. All the best--
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Old 11-19-19, 03:07 PM
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There's always a lowracer or trike if head trauma from a fall is an unacceptable possibility. The downside is, you'd be right at the dog's level.

I hope the owner was identified for future action.
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Old 11-19-19, 08:02 PM
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My crash was not near as bad. I face planted at only 12 mph and broke my left outer metacarpals , my orbital bone , and shattered my cheek bone into 5 small pieces floating freely in my face. The other rashes and stitches on appendages healed quickly and I did exactly as the doctor ordered, off the bike for 10-12 weeks. I was told if I bumped my face with a broken orbital bone the optic nerve could be severed and I would be blind in that eye. Do what your doctor says and seek multiple doctors(specialists for each of your injuries) I had three specialists for my injuries which were far less serious than yours and I wish you the best possible outcome, I was 64 when I crashed. Joe.
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Old 11-21-19, 06:49 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Wow, so many of you have been through hell...........There's an old saying where I trained in general surgery that goes: If you don't think it can get any worse, you're wrong. It can get way, way worse." Unfortunately, in the trauma business, I do believe that is true. So, I am grateful your injuries were not even more severe........
TRUE DAT !!! x ∞

My worst so far in 2011 at almost 61 was a flip-up off bike ejection while in a pace-line then landing on my back when buddy in front of me slammed on his brakes to prevent a head-on into a SUV that came into our lane resulting in a minor neck/collar bone break and LTN injury. 24/7 for 16 weeks in a Philadelphia collar or Aspen collar with chilling-out and only walking OKed by neurosurgeon. Wasn't even allowed to no load spin the crank on my recumbent exerciser. Broken bones and egos often heal with a return to 100% being the goal.

Now dealing with cancer with goal being maintaining the best QOL (Quality Of Life) for what ever time remains understanding that the decline from 100% is simply accelerated.
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Old 11-21-19, 07:03 AM
  #23  
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main takeaway (for me at least) is to stay somewhat active by at least walking/staying mobile vs shutting everything down and laying around.
sure...you're not crushing a 50-miler but anything is better than being sedentary...especially for cyclists. it's one thing to not ride because it's windy/raining/too hot/etc.
it's another thing because of injury. (hopefully) doesn't mean you can't get off your posterior. imho, too much rest is the worst possible thing.
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Old 11-21-19, 07:16 AM
  #24  
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As others have said I'm not retelling my story to one-up anyone.

My big trauma experience wasn't a bike crash but I did suffer a left leg tib/fib fracture at age 52. I have plates, screws and pins. I didn't have any other boo-boos, I repeating this to give an idea of what my recovery was like at that age, keeping in mind that I was in good physical shape with a body height of 5'6" and weight of 145 pounds.

I was on crutches for 10 weeks and used a cane for another 6 weeks. PT for 5 months. I worked very hard to get my mojo back. Right about the time I finished PT, I started walking as my main form of exercise. As a result of all this I have given up skiing and running.

When I started reading this thread this was my thoughts exactly...

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
That's a rough accident. Glad it wasn't any worse.

To be honest, you should expect a year to recover. I'll be 62 this week. In May 2018 I was hit by a car. Second time. First was 2001, which broke my back and neck in six places. That took a full decade to recover. I was walking with a cane until 2014. I resumed cycling in 2015 after working up to it gradually with long walks.

My injury last year after being hit by a car took more than a year to recover, and I'll always have a permanent shoulder and neck injury......
When I look back it it, 9 years ago, the thing that was the hardest for me was recovering from the lower GI slowdown that comes from pain meds. The lower unit totally shut down for many days and once it re-fired, I couldn't sit for a week. Just saying.
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Old 11-21-19, 07:48 AM
  #25  
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Sorry to hear of your experience. I've had enough incidents, not all cycling related, to appreciate the value of Physical Therapy as a profession. Without them there would many more "walking wounded." My advice is follow their direction to a "T."

P.S. I, for one, am impressed with your ability to accelerate from 27-28 mph.
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