Saturday, December 27, 2008

T6 Wedge fracture

What is a T6 wedge fracture?

The doctor's "education materials":

You have a compression fracture of one of the bones in your spine. This fracture occurs after minor injury (falling to the ground) in older persons with osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). It may also occur in young healthy persons after a severe trauma (car accident or fall from a height). This is a stable fracture and does not cause any injury to the spinal cord or nerves. This injury will take 4-6 weeks to heal and can be treated at home with bed rest and pain medicine.

In other words, a broken back. Linky, linky, linky...

This, my friends, is what happened to my DW this morning while sledding with our son.

There is this new, manufactured hill in town where the city has been doing construction to widen the roads, add a walk- and bike-path, and make it easier to cross town. We had driven past a few times and seen dozens of people out having fun. G has been asking if we could go. For Christmas, G received a sled on runners from his grandfather (GL); it was GL's when he was a boy. So, this morning, we decided to go and try out the hill with the "new" sled and a plastic sled we had purchased a week or so ago. We arrived and a big highway sign said, "No Parking, NOT a snowplay area." Yeah, right. Everyone was playing in the snow. Obviously this was a snowplay area.

So, we found a suitably steep slope, put G on the runners sled, and sent him off. He went all the way down, across the basin, and back up the other hill a bit. What fun! I came after him on the plastic sled. It was fast, and hard. I managed not to hurt myself. DW went next and she bounced along the slope. When we were all back at the top, DW said that we should find a more shallow slope. We did, G went down, and had fun. I went down, had fun. We came back up and went down again. G got tangled in his sled, hurt his knee a touch, but was fine. I went down on my stomache, without a sled. Slow, and fine. DW went next on the plastic sled, hit a jump (not purposely) at the bottom of the hill, and took flight. She landed on her back, compressing her T6 vertebra (not that we knew that at the time). A man nearby said he had probably broken a rib yesterday on this slope (but he was out again...). We went back up, G went down again, and then DW asked us to take her home. After some prodding by me, we went to the urgent care, and then to the ER (because UC doesn't do back x-rays). After a few hours at ER (very little wait in the lobby---we were triaged through pretty quickly), we got the above education.

The ER apparently receives about 22 sledding accident cases per day in winter. There were at least three sledding cases in there with us, one person was so bad off that he couldn't walk.

Apparently, the best way to go sledding is on your stomach, head first (with a bicycle helmet). Don't go on your bottom because you are very likely to get this kind of compression fracture in your back.

So, now DW is on hydrocodone, a mild, narcotic, semi-synthetic opiate. So, apparently she's a user. We're all keeping an eye on her. At least any cough she may have had will be relieved.

I don't have a scanner, so I can't show you her x-ray, but here are some good examples.

Be careful out there.

Next time, barring any other sudden cases of education, we'll be examining the potential dangers of nuclear energy w.r.t. accidents or sabotage.


Grumpator said...

Awww...poor DW! I tell you, I had some scary sledding instances when I was a youngster and I admit to being too old and terrified to do it now. I am a big coward.

Runbob said...

Best wishes to DW for a complete recovery! I went sledding with the kids last week and helped build them a jump that even they were too scared to go off of. I had to do it myself to prove it wouldn't kill them. There's always a fine line in between a great day sledding and a trip to the emergency room..

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.