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Concussion and giving up climbing.
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darkside


Nov 16, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Concussion and giving up climbing.
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I'm interested to hear from folks who have been injured and considered giving up climbing. Given that this is a climbing website I don't really expect to hear from too many former climbers but your feedback would be immensely interesting.

Climbers who have considered giving up climbing because of injury and why you continued is of interest to me.

I mention concussion specifically. It's known as an invisible injury and it's effects are somewhat more insidious than regular blood and guts. I expect there are a few climbers who have suffered a concussion and if you were lucky it was minor and abated quickly.

Anyone out there had to deal with a concussion, an avalanche, a partner that stopped breathing, a guilty conscience, or anything similar that caused them to consider giving up climbing?

(This post was edited by darkside on Nov 16, 2013, 11:35 AM)


sungam


Nov 18, 2013, 7:40 AM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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I've temporarily quit climbing a couple times after witnessing accidents but nothing permanent.

I'm hoping nothing bad happened to you, Darkside?


jjanowia


Nov 18, 2013, 10:04 AM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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I took a really big fall that resulted in relatively minor injuries (broken bones that healed OK) but could have played out much worse. The cause of the fall was poor judgement - I had been very accustomed to ice climbing in certain parts of the country, and traveled somewhere else to get on a big route. My heuristics were not appropriate for this new setting, and I didn't ease into things cautiously (instead opting to jump on the big objective right when I got there due to a favorable weather window).

It was slow enough such that I consciously thought I was gonna die. Really shook me up. I more or less swore off climbing.

I moved to a place with crap climbing access, got interested in other sports, but went to the rock gym here and there. My desire to climb came back. I'll be moving back to an area close to good climbing next year for my spouse's career and am eager to get back out there.

The big change for me is obvious: risk tolerance / acceptance, and what it is I "get out of" climbing. Having a fall with injury consequences is "positive feedback" in the sense that it reminds you of the hazards inherent in the activity. My attitude about climbing is different now. I have less ambition to climb hard stuff. I still want to challenge myself, but probably in different ways - think getting on a broader variety of things rather than seeking out the classics. I am eager just to "get outside", even if it means at a lower technical standard. I'll probably always long for the feelings / sensations you get when you're pushing your personal limits in a setting when you feel "out there". But I also don't want to go back to sitting on the couch injured and burdening my loved ones.

I think your return to climbing or not has a lot to do with how you are approaching it as a sport. If you can embrace it as something experiential you can probably continue to climb, and augment your behaviors and attitudes to get to a place where you are more comfortable. If you approach climbing more as an achievement - oriented exercise, then you may find it tough to continue (since any sort of change in attitudes / risk probably means dialing back the way in which you explore your limits).

FYI mostly talking about alpine climbing here.


(This post was edited by jjanowia on Nov 18, 2013, 11:45 AM)


darkside


Nov 18, 2013, 12:20 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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darkside wrote:
<Snip> ....a concussion, an avalanche, a partner that stopped breathing, a guilty conscience, or anything similar that caused them to consider giving up climbing?
Magnus - Depends how you define "bad"? Ongoing saga involving all of the above - so not exactly good.Crazy

jjanowia - I used to climb W5's here and there but I'd say I'm just as happy on a W2 in a cool or scenic setting. Short/long, all have appeal so I'd say it's more about being out there and moving over ice. Rockclimbing is lumped in there too though.
Thanks for your input, I suppose a middle ground of modified desires is also an option. I've been considering it in light of many years climbing and the fact that while climbing, all types, are inherent to my lifestyle, I no longer consider it intrinsic and necessary. Good to consider other avenues though thanks.


Fred20


Nov 18, 2013, 2:53 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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Specifically regarding concussions, I had a basilar skull fracture from a car accident (1984) when I was 4yrs old (obviously w/ a concussion)...as a result I never played baseball or football (for a team) since my mom was a nurse and even knew that having another or multiple concussions is no bueno...so I did track, tennis, swimming, played instruments etc.

Having said that, it comes down to what your "risk tolerance" is and what exactly is "risky" for you.

I don't think climbing is that risky as long as you are vigilante with it. Just about everyone drives or rides bikes on roads which is "risky".

About the only major ding I've suffered since was wakeboarding where I got a nice whiplash and headache that lasted a week (mild concussion i'm guessing).

I've only been climbing 2 yrs but I don't see head trauma being a big risk w/ climbing, unless there is rock fall (gear) or an uncontrolled fall (lead/trad)

Hope that helps


(This post was edited by Fred20 on Nov 18, 2013, 3:11 PM)


Gmburns2000


Nov 18, 2013, 7:42 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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darkside wrote:
I'm interested to hear from folks who have been injured and considered giving up climbing. Given that this is a climbing website I don't really expect to hear from too many former climbers but your feedback would be immensely interesting.

Climbers who have considered giving up climbing because of injury and why you continued is of interest to me.

I mention concussion specifically. It's known as an invisible injury and it's effects are somewhat more insidious than regular blood and guts. I expect there are a few climbers who have suffered a concussion and if you were lucky it was minor and abated quickly.

Anyone out there had to deal with a concussion, an avalanche, a partner that stopped breathing, a guilty conscience, or anything similar that caused them to consider giving up climbing?

Not sure I'd quit climbing, but depending on the severity of the concussion I'd be more aware of which helmet I was wearing which type of climbing. Of course, being aware of potential falls and rock fall, etc. would be more of a concern to me.

Hope you recover from it. Give it time and listen to your doctor.


granite_grrl


Nov 19, 2013, 8:37 AM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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Tricky buisness this giving up climbing after injury. I have been hurt pretty darn badly, but physically I've healed up well and I might even call myself a pretty good climber now.

I've met other people whose initial accident was far less severe but they have lingering issues that make climbing difficult for them (ie - back injuries that make it hard to hang from a harness). Obviously if you can't do an activity without being in pain then you will drift away from that activity no matter how much you loved it in the past.

In terms of head space issues, that is going to be very different for each person. Personally, I've gone through a lot of head space issues. This has taken many years though and if you consider I probably took a good 5 or 6 years for reasonable mind recovery, well that's longer than most people's climbing careers.


Shanna


Nov 19, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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I was in a climbing accident and suffered a skull fracture, major concussion, lost of hearing... During the fall, I somehow hit a ledge and was flipped upside down.
During recovery, I contemplated giving up climbing, but did not. My reasons for not quitting were at the personal level (would I regret not trying to climb again, would I think of myself as a quitter). Many people tried to convince me to quit, but I would have seen myself in a different light if I had. This is an individual decision- regarding your risk tolerance and where you are. Looking back 16 years, I am thankful I did not give up the sport.
Also, this was a reoccurring choice I made for about 4 years after the accident. It was not as if I decided to not quit and did not re-engage with this question dozens of times when it was hard (headaches, some mild PTSD, anxiety, head space issues)
I forgot to mention- I was wearing a helmet. It was cracked during the fall.


(This post was edited by Shanna on Nov 19, 2013, 12:45 PM)


Fred20


Nov 19, 2013, 2:52 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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I guess my only question is did you get a concussion climbing or another way? I could see how you could think about stopping doing an activity in which you go hurt, if you took a bad fall or whatever.


darkside


Nov 19, 2013, 6:57 PM
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Re: [Fred20] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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The concussion was from rocks in the avalanche. We were at the base debating if we should continue when it hit. The doubts arise from the whole situation, not exclusively climbing.

Becs - my injuries don't compare to what you went through. We should chat soon and catch up, compare notes. Is Nate heading this way for training again?


granite_grrl


Nov 19, 2013, 7:11 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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darkside wrote:
The concussion was from rocks in the avalanche. We were at the base debating if we should continue when it hit. The doubts arise from the whole situation, not exclusively climbing.

Becs - my injuries don't compare to what you went through. We should chat soon and catch up, compare notes. Is Nate heading this way for training again?

No, we're headed to Bozeman in a few weeks though if you'll be down for that though.


jorgegonzalez


Nov 21, 2013, 9:17 AM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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My horse threw me this summer (he's an Andalusian stallion and went chasing a nearby mare), rocketing me backwards with no chance of escape. After watching my feet following me for a micro-second I violently struck the ground on my upper back, narrowly avoiding a head injury, and severely injuring my ribs, both back and front.

Despite being aware my injuries were debilitating, I caught him and got back on, walking him for 15 minutes till he settled down. I didn't ride again for two months due to my injuries.

Moral to the story, close calls like that have a way of making you seriously ponder the activities you engage in, it makes you look deep inside to view the type of person you are and why you do what you do, at the risk of serious injury or loss of life. If you are fortunate, and decide to go back to your risky behavior, you will do so with a healthy respect for the dangers that might befall you and an increased awareness of how to avoid future mishaps. Being reckless is no longer an option.


Fred20


Nov 21, 2013, 3:11 PM
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Re: [darkside] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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Sounds like wrong place wrong time (avalanche)...

I've know plenty of people that have almost drowned and will no longer get in swimming pools...

Have to evaluate the opportunity cost of climbing vs not climbing


jumpingrock


Jan 2, 2014, 7:10 AM
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Re: [Fred20] Concussion and giving up climbing. [In reply to]
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Shit man, we'll have to catch up on this when I'm back on the 25th.

As far as your question goes, I can't speak much from a climbing point of view as my injuries have been (knock on wood) mostly of a overuse variety. I was in (as you may remember) a pretty serious cycling accident. Took me 4 months to get back on the bike after the 2 months required to get over the concussion.

I think a big part of what put me back in the saddle is simply the realization that accidents can happen in any activity we undertake. Yes, cycling can be dangerous, as can driving, climbing and a variety of other sports and activities that we undertake on a daily basis. The very act of living will invariably end in death.

The decision to continue with a sport that caused a serious injury or some other traumatic event is not an easy one to make. In the end I think that the question is what can you do to mitigate the risks(perceived or otherwise) in such a way that you are willing/able to continue to partake in the activity.

I know that you are an extremely cautious and well experienced climber and I know that, while you go to areas of risk, you know your limits and operate within them. I don't know if you should give up climbing or not. I do think that a break is probably in order as you have other activities that you enjoy. Sometimes taking some time away from a sport will give you a fresh perspective on why you started climbing in the first place.

Take care!


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