Three days ago, I woke up with excitement, ready to land the whirlybird. I had landed some at the cable and was ready to nail the trick behind the boat. Of course the wind was gusting up to 25 mph, but today that wasn’t going to stop me. I warmed up on the trampoline and headed out. We found a short line, about one trick long, and I was ready to go. A few tries in, I booted the most beautiful whirly ever…..to faceplant. Instead of opening and riding away, I dove in, face first, and broke my fall with my face. Ouch.
I lost consciousness and floated to the surface feeling numb in the face that quickly progressed to pain. I was asked, “Are you ok?” My reply was simply a muffled, “No.” I was bleeding from the mouth and asked my coach if I still had all my teeth. Teeth? Check. I quickly had felt as though I had broken every bone in my face and jaw. My vision was blurry, my demeanor panicky, and I knew this crash was definitely one of my worst.
I settled in my house, not surprisingly, tending to a massive headache with periods of nausea and tingling in my face and arm. The idea of going to the ER was dancing in the back of my mind, but with an ice pack on my face and head and water to rehydrate I decided to relax and wait it out.
When is it ok to treat yourself, and when is it better to go to the ER?
Head injuries are common in wakeboarding and definitely not something to mess around with.
Firstly, if you or anyone you are with takes a bad crash, it is important to assess the situation. See if the person appears dizzy, is unaware of where they are or the situation they are in, has lost consciousness, or forgets anything. Ask them if they feel nauseous, dizzy, foggy, light sensitive or if they have a headache. The person should then rest, under supervision. Try to limit medications to rule out possible contraindications. Ice the affected area, i.e neck, upper back, and head, to limit inflammation. An ER visit is necessary if any of the following are present: headaches that worsen, slurred speech, seizures, repeated vomiting, increasing confusion or irritability, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, loss of consciousness, or unusual behavior change. A CT scan can rule out brain injury or other serious trauma-related disorders.
The next few days after a head injury it is important to rest as much as possible and gradually, when appropriate, return to activity. Begin light, in the case of wakeboarding, carving and small jumps, and progress within the following days and weeks to full activity. Managing the soreness in the head, neck and shoulders that comes with big crashes can be done best using ice, massage, and chiropractic adjustments. This will ease the body in reducing inflammation, which causes pain, decrease muscle spasms, and help keep the spine aligned.
As with any serious injury, call 911 or go to the ER if the appropriate management is unsure to you.
Be safe. Ride on.