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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barbell Training as Rehab

Brian Jones’ Story

by Karl Schudt


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“I’m glad you didn’t listen to your doctors.”  – Mark Rippetoe

“I can’t go the gym. Weightlifting is hard. I’m too old. I’m a hard-gainer.” There are lots of excuses that people have for not getting under a barbell. We want life to be easy, and look for reasons not to do hard stuff. You think you have excuses? Brian Jones fell twenty feet off of a building, broke his legs, and was told that he would never walk again. How’s that for an excuse?

Here’s Brian’s story in his own words:

“My name is Brian Jones. I am a forty five-year-old father of six in Lexington, Kentucky. In April of 2011, during the course of my duties as an insurance adjuster, I fell over twenty feet from a roof in North Carolina; landing in a standing position on the concrete drive. Imagine grabbing a rebound from your second floor and coming down with it. Long story not as long – I incurred severe pilon fractures in both legs.”

What’s a pilon fracture? The talus bone, in the foot just below the tibia and the fibula, gets pushed up with extreme force into the tibia, and breaks the bone near the joint. It’s often seen in car accidents because of the force of the impact on the feet through the pedals. Imagine lying down and having someone swing a sledgehammer into your heels, and what this would do to your lower legs. In Brian’s case, the pilon fractures were particularly bad, shattering the ends of the tibias where they meet the talus. And both legs were fractured. Usually, in a car accident, only one pilon fracture will be suffered, since only one foot is on the pedal. To help you visualize the injuries, here are the x-rays:


     

The fractures were bad enough that they required pins and hardware to fix. This hardware was supposed to be permanent, but more on that later.



   

His doctor told him that it wasn’t a matter of whether he would be disabled, but how severely. A man who had been working to earn the money for a wife, six children, and a Chinese foreign exchange student was now bedridden, living in a hospital bed in a room of his house, with the prospect that he would never walk again and the fear that he would never be able to fulfill his responsibilities to his family again.

“I thought I was done with it all, you know?” said Brian. “We were so convinced by both the doctors and the physical therapists that my lot in life was going to be spent either in a wheelchair or behind a walker that we had work done on our home to accommodate what was going to be my new disabled lifestyle.  My neighbor and father-in-law built a 35-foot handicapped ramp off the front of the house.”  Brian eventually become so despondent over his situation after hearing his five-year-old daughter say to someone, “my daddy doesn’t walk,” that he even considered suicide so as not to burden his wife and family any further.  Fortunately this was a just a brief temptation, a fleeting moment of gray depression.  Brian determined that he was in an unacceptable situation and he refused to participate in the disability.  What Brian had in his favor was a high degree of motivation to control his recovery and change his life.

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