Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Does the Future Hold for Russian Olympian’s Broken Spine?

Last week, the world watched as one of the world’s top athletes was rushed to the hospital after a nasty spill. It wasn’t a head or leg injury caused by the ill-landed ski jump, however, it was a broken spine. Maria Komissarova, a Russian athlete, was taken off the ski slopes by medical professionals after she lay motionless on the slopes (though she did sit up for a short amount of time.) While it’s never a good sight for athletes to fall – especially on such a competitive level – Komissarova’s might just be one of the most severe back injuries in Olympic skiing history. A spokesperson for the International Olympics Committee said Komissarova “fractured the 12th dorsal vertebrae in her lower-middle back.”

After the injury, she underwent an almost 7-hour emergency surgery, before being airlifted to Germany to receive specialized treatment. Officials have since declared the operation a “success,” yet giving few details about what’s next in store for the athlete. And though doctors and spokespersons alike are remaining mum about Komissarova’s recovery, it’s likely she’s in for months of painful therapy and treatments. A process that will help her in the long term.

The Long-Term Effects of a Back Injury

One of the biggest factors contributing to long-term back pains are the initial recovery stages. Depending on how one’s back heals in the first few weeks, and whether or not swelling becomes an issue, Komissarova’s – or anyone with a back injury’s – healing process could take very different paths. The future could hold years of skiing and moving with a healthy back, or it could mean ongoing pains and a spine that never quite works the same again. Perhaps that’s why officials are keeping quiet about the process. [ESPN]

Whatever the outcome, however, the IOC has made clear that they’re on the lookout for other athletes’ safety. By looking into new regulations, checking slope conditions, and more, they hope to prevent this or any other serious injury from taking place in the future.