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Old 08-24-2011, 09:59 PM   #1
Brian Shanahan
Member Brian Shanahan is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Aberdeen  NC
Posts: 3
Crossfit and recovery after traumatic injury

I'd like to share a story with other members here on the board.
I'm a member of a SOF unit in the military and I've been a crossfit nut for about two years. While on leave in June, I was involved in an accident while enjoying some sunny weather and wakeboarding with friends. The rope became entangled around my right arm, just below the shoulder, and I went for a subsurface ride behind a speedboat, with what was essentially a noose around my appendage. It was a rather painful experience.

The bicep and triceps muscles were crushed and separated as the rope crushed down around my arm. The brachial artery was pinched shut, and the nerves suffered extreme damage, resulting in complete paralysis from the shoulder down. The shoulder, lat, and pectoral muscle suffered a mild strain, but my whole right side bruised dark purple with a hideous yellow tinge around the edges of the bruise.

I went into surgery to repair the artery and restore blood flow, this was approximately 2 hours after the accident. Two hours of staring at my arm, which was cold, gray, and lifeless. I was pretty sure I'd lose the arm, and the paramedic, when I asked him to be honest in his opinion, said he thought it was likely.

I awoke from surgery with a nice, warm, normal arm (aside from being incredibly swollen and crushed at the top) but had no movement from the shoulder on down. The surgeon stated that my fitness level was the primary reason that the arm didn't have to be amputated. Healthy blood pressure and arteries allowed the blood to flow normally again, and muscular fitness kept my rotator cuff and my shoulder intact despite what was probably a significant amount of force pulling against it. The verdict was 12-18 months of recovery, with no guarantee that I'd ever regain full use of my right arm. It didn't sound too optimistic.

I'm pretty stubborn, so I was down for the count approximately a week and a half, but then began some easy air squats, and step-ups onto my plyo box in my garage gym. This progressed into KB swings, and one-arm overhead squats and snatch, all with my right arm in a sling.

In two days, I'll hit the 2 month anniversary of my epic wipeout.

About two weeks ago I got some movement in the elbow. A week after that, I had full range of motion, and was able to ditch the orthopaedic robocop brace that I had to wear. I currently feel like my elbow is normal, although it's very weak still from the damage to the bicep/triceps.

The docs I've been seeing are shocked. I still have no use of the wrist, and my thumb and fingers are somewhat numb, but they have limited movement, and are slowly improving as well.

The moral of my story is that strong people are hard to kill. I attribute the fact that I still have an arm to the level of fitness I reached through being a Crossfit addict. My mental state has always been positive through this ordeal. Part of it has been my girlfriend and family supporting me, and the rest is because of my dedication to being an athlete. Losing an arm, though being a real bummer, was never going to be a show-stopper for me.

I believe the quickness of my recovery is due to the fact that I've continued to stay active in the gym. A Crossfitter's mentality is to face adversity and then kick it's ***, right? I'm currently the only guy I've seen do 95lb barbell OH squats with one arm. It took some practice, but I got it figured out.

We all deal with injuries and adversity at some point. Don't let it get you down, fellow CF'ers. It's simply a challenge to overcome.

I can't do the daily WODs, currently... but I'm sure I'll get there soon, and much sooner than I would if I had never been a CF'er. I'm still in the gym doing my own WOD every day, though "constantly varied" is difficult to maintain.

Keep on WODing... it might save your life/limbs some day.
-please excuse any typing errors... I'm doing this with one mitt

-"Be a Effin' Athlete"
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