Ribs Definition. Rib Cage Front View. Rib Cage Side View. Rib Cage Back View

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1 Broken Ribs

2 Ribs Definition Humans have 24 ribs. They make up the rib cage also known as the thoracic cage. At the front ribs are attached to the sternum. At the rear ribs are attached to the thoracic vertebrae. The thoracic vertebrae, is part of the rib cage. The thoracic vertebrae, is also part of your backbone and spinal column. The rib cage is part of the respiratory system. The ribcage moves by muscular action to accommodate breathing. Vital organs such as the lungs, heart and kidneys are encased in the ribcage. The ribcage provides these vital organs with the protection that they need. The ribs and ribcage are a core component of the human skeleton. The ribs are multifunctional. Their tasks help you to stay alive. Rib Cage Side View Rib Cage Front View Rib Cage Back View

3 Broken Ribs RIBS DON T break easily. They are strong and extremely resilient. Their strength is re-enforced by muscle. It takes extreme force to fracture a rib. Most rib fractures are the result of vehicle accidents. Ribs can also be broken from falls and sports injuries. Most rib fractures are incomplete fractures. This means the rib has not broken all the way through the bone. Completely broken ribs can shift out of place. When the broken rib shifts out of place it is called a displaced rib fracture (see fig 1). This kind of injury can puncture a lung or cause injury to vital organs. Multiple rib fractures can be serious. Having more than three broken ribs can be life threatening. Multiple rib fractures can impede your ability to breathe. This can be a life threatening problem. THIS CASE STUDY is based upon rib fractures sustained by myself as a passenger during a roll-over accident. No two people will experience identical or closely comparable injuries from vehicle accidents. The scenario and injuries will be different every time. Generalizing too much can be misleading. Generalizations are supposedly based on the law of averages, the likelihood or possibility of something happening based upon statistical equations. 18 Broken Ribs (A case study) 3

4 Having more than three fractured ribs can be life-threatening but does not mean that every person with four or five broken ribs has life- threatening injuries. A person with one or two broken ribs can be in a life-threatening condition. Circumstances will vary from one case to the next. The nature of the injuries, the individual person s fitness, health and resilience will be factors. In some cases a person can have six or more broken ribs without having life-threatening injuries. Ribs can break at the front, or the back, or the side, depending upon where a person has been hit or crushed. In this case study I was hit extremely hard multiple times in the back. Most of my ribs are broken completely. Most of them have separated or broken away from my thoracic vertebrae. If someone is hit in the chest from the front and sustain broken ribs in the front, their injuries and symptoms will be very different from mine. Likewise if someone breaks ribs in their side, the injuries and symptoms will be different again. The injuries in this case study are selective and narrow focused. They do not represent broken rib injuries in general. The Accident On 14th August 2009 I was being transferred between different schools while relief teaching in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia. The driver failed to slow down at a bend in the track (dirt-road). She rolled the vehicle while travelling at about 100 kilometers an hour. During the first roll-over I suffered a complete dislocation in my thoracic vertebrae at T1. This injury is probably what broke my ribs at T1 and T2. A large steel object permeated my seat from behind (fig 2,8). Every time the vehicle rolled the object was driven hard into my back at lightening, speed with more two ton of weight behind it. Each blow would smash and shatter my vertebrae and ribs, breaking several vertebrae and ribs at a time. 4

5 The dislocation at T1 took me out, turning my lights off instantly. I was later hit in the thoracic spine at T4, T5, behind my heart (fig 3,4,9,10). This blow smashed my vertebrae and ribs to pieces. It seemed to have kick-started my heart as well. I was awoken suddenly, feeling the pain from the hit I had just received. These were killer blows. Being already dead my body would have been limp and floppy. Maybe if I had have been alive and awake and braced, the blow might have killed me instead. If I had have been hit in the same place again once more, I am sure I would have been paralyzed or killed as a result. Breaking vertebrae and ribs After the hit behind the heart I shifted. I then got hit again in the thoracic vertebrae, but lower down at T10 (fig5,6,11,12). It had a similar affect, breaking several more vertebrae and ribs. There is an area near the center of my rib cage from T6-T8 where my ribs seem to be intact and not broken. Out of 24 ribs I have about six left that are not broken. I was hit at least five times by the object that kick-started my heart. Since the accident I have had a lot of pain in the back in the upper thoracic and the lower thoracic areas where my ribs are broken. After the accident I would get a sharp sudden excruciating pain in the upper back if I pushed or lifted something. This was possibly sharp broken rib bones protruding into my flesh. I have had restricted mobility and some loss of sensation in this area also. When I discussed this with my doctor he told me to take a pain killer. He then completed and signed paper work which the insurance organization had sent him, to say I was fit to resume work, and fit to carry out the same work tasks as before the accident. Before the accident I had spent most of my life as a laborer. 5

6 I would often swing a shovel or axe all day. For a number of years I was a furniture removalist, lifting furniture and pianos. I have no idea what would happen if I attempted to lift a piano now. My muscles could do it but my thoracic vertebrae and ribs would probably collapse and fold-up. I am sure the consequences would not be good. I don t intend attempting to find out just to spite a crooked doctor and corrupt insurance organization. I have shown the accompanying images of broken ribs to doctors, surgeons and professors in Australia. So far I have not received any help or advice from any of them. Some have acknowledged that my ribs are broken, some have looked at the images but said nothing. Some doctors appeared ignorant and badly informed about rib fractures but will never acknowledge it. Too severe to heal Since the vehicle accident I have been aware of these injuries and I have been cautious and protective of them. Most of my ribs are broken completely. Some are broken in more than one place. Some of my broken ribs are displaced rib fractures, where the rib bone has shifted completely from where it should be. These broken ribs are too severe to heal by themself. There are too many fractures for surgical intervention. The agencies responsible for causing the accident seem hell-bent on denying my injuries so I will never get any help or advice from them. Incomplete rib fractures can heal by themselves. Complete rib fractures and displaced rib fractures cannot heal when the rib bone is separated. The burden of breathing, protecting my lungs and heart and supporting my upper body is placed upon an arrangement of broken rib bones enmeshed in their surrounding tissue and supported by several unbroken ribs which are attached to my rear thoracic vertebrae, which itself is smashed and broken from top to bottom. Just standing or walking is a considerable task for these bones considering their state and the beating they have taken. They frequently indicate the stress they are under by the pain and symptoms relayed to me. Using common sense it is wise to be cautious and to avoid exasperating rib fractures. It is best to avoid falling or slipping or being hit in the injured areas where ribs are fractured. You need to protect and nurse the injured area as best as you can. 6

7 Broken Rib Images From accident 14th August 2009 Displaced Rib Fracture Rib has moved away from where it should be. While I was seat belted into my seat. The object would hit me hard and deep into my vertebrae and ribs. It would shatter my bones to pieces. I was hit at T5 behind my heart. My vertebrae and ribs have been smashed to pieces. The blow kick-started by heart as well. Completely Fractured Ribs Rib have broken away from my vertebrae at T5 behind my heart. 7

8 A hit to my lower rib cage at T10 fractured my ribs and vertebrae bones. Rib is broken multiple times. It is separated from my vertebrae. The ribs behind my kidneys are completely broken multiple times. Pieces of broken bone lay where my ribs used to be. I was hit multiple times here. Rib is broken and bent. Spinal cord. Thoracic vertebrae Rib is completely broken in two places. Rib separated from my vertebrae. Ribs smashed completely away from my vertebrae. 8

9 Displaced rib fractures. Broken ribs. Displaced rib fractures. Broken ribs. Ribs broken completely from vertebrae. Complete rib fractures. 9

10 Ribs are completely fractured from vertebrae. Many pieces of small broken bone segments lay behind my kidneys, where my ribs once used to be. Left rib completely fractured multiple times. Rib completely fractured in three places. Completely fractured ribs. Much of the rib bone missing Rib fractured from vertebrae and smashed to pieces. 10

11 Rib completely fractured at T11 at the rear, left side of vertebrae. Ribs fractured completely away from vertebrae. Rib is completely fractured from vertebrae. Opposite rib at T11 is fractured multiple times. Spinous process or spine T2 upper thoracic vertebrae. Ribs completely fractured from vertebrae. Bone fragment where rib used to be. 11

12 Pictures of the wrecked school vehicle After it was transported to a wrecking yard in Alice Springs My side of vehicle caved in on me. Roof and side window both folded down on me crushing my neck, eventually tearing head and neck from body. Complete vertebrae dislocation at T1. My headrest My seat 12

13 18 Broken Ribs DEFINITION OF TERMS COMPLETE FRACTURE: This means the bone has fractured all the way through. The bone can separate. This kind of fracture is difficult since it cannot heal by itself. It needs to be set in place. CROOKED: Dishonest untrustworthy DISLOCATION: When a bone joint separates. Extreme force is required to dislocate or separate a bone joint. Human bone joints are designed to last a lifetime and ride out all the bumps and knocks along the journey. DISPLACED RIB FRACTURE: When ribs have fractured all the way through, they can shift out of place. FRACTURE: A break in the bone. Separation. GIBSON DESERT: A large isolated region of desert in Western Australia. IMPEDE: Interfere with. Slow or restrict progress. Interfere with to impair or worsen. INCOMPLETE FRACTURE: The bone has not broken all the way through. This kind of fracture will generally heal by itself because the bone has not separated. LIFE THREATENING: Endangering life. Something that can possibly end a life or might cause death. MISLEADING: Deceptive. Intentionally not being straight, or misrepresenting. MULTIFUNCTIONAL: Performing or responsible for multiple or many different tasks. ORGANS: Body parts that perform specific functions. The brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, skin, liver and stomach are organs. PARALYZED: Imobilised Loss of muscle function. When the body or part of it is incapable of movement. Usually the result of damage to the nervous system. RE-ENFORCED: Strengthen or make stronger. RESILIENT: Ability to absorb or take punishment. Tough and long lasting. Proficient at recovering. SCENARIO: Circumstances. Series of events. SURGEON: A doctor who specializes in a specific area of medicine. SPINAL COLUMN: It is also known as the vertebrae column. The vertebrae bones collectively make up the spinal column. The spinal column consists of your back bones and neck bones. SPINAL CORD: It is connected to the brain. It descends down the body from the brain. It links the body s communication or nervous system with the brain. STERNUM: Also called the breastbone. It is at the front of the ribcage. Ribs connect at the front to the sternum. THORACIC: Thoracic refers to the chest area. The ribcage is also called the thoracic cage. Thoracic vertebrae is the mid-section of spinal column, in between the cervical and lumber sections. VERTEBRAE: The bones that collectively make up the spinal column. The vertebrae supports the body, accommodates movement and flexibility and protects the spinal cord. VITAL: Necessary to live or survive 13

14 By the same author: Copyright Dale Massey 2012 All Rights Reserved This book maybe copied and distributed free of charge for Educational Purposes. Please credit the author.

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