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c1 fracture recovery

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Hello my name is Courtney and I am a 16 year old girl. I was in a car accident and I had a stable fracture of my c1 and no spinal damage. I was put into an Aspen neck brace for 6-12 weeks. I am almost at my third week and i have a few questions. I stopped taking all pain medication after 1 1/2 weeks because i have no pain. I am a very active person and competitive swimmer and waterpolo player. I want to know how long it would be until I am allowed to get into the water and do some light leg work? Also, I am a lifeguard and want to start work again and for safety reasons I would be put on dispatch which is very light work. I would have no chance of having to save someone and I would only tell people when they were allowed to go down the slide. I would be sitting in a chair and under an umbrella. When would I be able to do these things? I want to start getting back into a routine.
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replied June 16th, 2012
Especially eHealthy
CourtneyLynn5,

Sorry about your accident. You are very lucky. Most C1 fractures are of the burst type, and as you stated, are stable injuries (and rarely cause neurological symptoms). These are also called Jefferson fractures. Often they are caused when someone dives into a shallow pool and hits the top of his/her head.

If the transverse ligament is still intact, it can be treated with a hard collar. Sounds like that is what you have.

It usually takes about 6 weeks for the bone to unite. Gross motion of the fracture will slow the healing process, so try not to take the collar off and move the neck around (besides the risk of making the injury worse - yes, there are patients out there, when the pain goes away, take their collars off!!)

As to working, that is really up to your surgeon. But, you probably will not be able to go back to work till the bone is healed. Though you say you will only be sitting around, what happens is something happens and it is only you around. You may do something that would not be good for you. Sounds like you are a very gung-ho type of person, putting others ahead of yourself. The surgeon is just trying to protect you.

I know six weeks sounds like a long time, but in the large realm of things, it is actually a short period of time.

But, do speak with your surgeon, you never know. He/she may allow you to do some physical activity. It will have to be such that it won't put you in any danger. Also, you have to remember that the parts of the body are not isolated parts, but work together. It is hard to keep from using the muscles around your injured area, when you are actively doing other things.

Again, you are a lucky girl. If you had broken the C2 or C3, things would be very different.

Good luck on your recovery.
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replied July 5th, 2012
C1 Recovery
Courtney,

I also had a C1 stable fracture almost a year ago this month with no surgery needed. I spent 10 weeks in an Aspen as well. MY fracture came as a result of being tripped and fell head first into a pool striking my head on the side wall.

Being a paramedic, I knew immediatly that I had done something when I felt the extreme pain and heard the pop in my neck. I held my own C-Spine until i was helped out of the pool and laid down on the deck.

Spent three days in critical care waiting for the swelling to set in and told that I had a large chance of being paralized from the nipple line down.

Why am I telling you this ? Because I am like you, active in sports and a full time Firefighter / paramedic I was looking at how soon could I get this stupid collar off and get back to work and working out. TAKE YOUR TIME ! Because I listened to the Doctor and wore my brace as instructed and didn't push it, I was able to go back on shift again with no restrictions in three months. Pushing it and doing activities before the bone is able to heal could result in even more time and issues. Your neck is not something to play with.

I want to wish you all the best and good luck with your recovery. Trust me, the time will go by fast.

Bob
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replied July 5th, 2012
C1 Recovery
Courtney,

I also had a C1 stable fracture almost a year ago this month with no surgery needed. I spent 10 weeks in an Aspen as well. MY fracture came as a result of being tripped and fell head first into a pool striking my head on the side wall.

Being a paramedic, I knew immediatly that I had done something when I felt the extreme pain and heard the pop in my neck. I held my own C-Spine until i was helped out of the pool and laid down on the deck.

Spent three days in critical care waiting for the swelling to set in and told that I had a large chance of being paralized from the nipple line down.

Why am I telling you this ? Because I am like you, active in sports and a full time Firefighter / paramedic I was looking at how soon could I get this stupid collar off and get back to work and working out. TAKE YOUR TIME ! Because I listened to the Doctor and wore my brace as instructed and didn't push it, I was able to go back on shift again with no restrictions in three months. Pushing it and doing activities before the bone is able to heal could result in even more time and issues. Your neck is not something to play with.

I want to wish you all the best and good luck with your recovery. Trust me, the time will go by fast.

Bob
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