Wickens’ girlfriend shares spinal cord nightmare online

Karli Woods and Robert Wickens
Karli Woods and Robert Wickens

Karli Woods Blog: As many of you already know my fiance Robert Wickens was in an IndyCar accident back in August of this year. He suffered many orthopedic fractures as a result of the crash, but the worst injury he suffered was a spinal cord contusion. We’ve mentioned briefly on our social media pages what a spinal contusion is, but I’ll go into a bit more detail on my blog because we can!

I am not a doctor, but I have learned a hell of a lot about SCI during this whole process, so bare with me while I do my best to explain this. After the crash I worked with our PR team to write up a press release listing out all of Rob’s injuries. He was in an induced coma, but I knew he’d want to be as transparent as possible online about his injuries, so that’s what we did. Here is the list of Rob’s injuries after the crash in Pocono on August 19th.

Editor's Note: Current Catch Fence design either kills you (Wheldon, others), or mangles your body like this. How many more before something is done?

  • Thoracic spinal fracture
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neck fracture
  • Tibia and fibula fractures to both legs
  • Fractures in both hands
  • Fractured right forearm
  • Fractured elbow
  • Four fractured ribs
  • Pulmonary contusion

We announced the spinal cord injury pretty early on, but SCI is so rare that I guess people did not understand what it meant when we said he had a thoracic spinal fracture AND a spinal cord injury. Essentially what that means is that he broke his back (his T5 mainly) and pieces of his broken bone hit his spinal cord which caused the contusion which results in swelling of the spinal cord.

Swelling of the spinal cord results in paralysis because the nerve signals cannot run from the brain past the level of injury. It’s like there is something in the middle of the spinal cord blocking the nerves to run down. However, because Rob’s injury is incomplete that means over time his spinal cord swelling will go down, and there is potential for the nerves to learn a new path through the spinal cord.

To be completely honest I had no idea what all this meant until finally a doctor broke it down for me in layman’s terms. I knew he was paralyzed but I didn’t understand why. I didn’t take it very well either when the first doctor told me when I arrived at the ER.

Read much more at Karli Woods' Blog

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