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Question for the Day

Why was the patient not complaining of any pain from this injury?

She was highly intoxicated …
and she was driving a motorcycle at a high rate of speed …
without a helmet …
when she crashed …
and broke her neck.

Such a sad case. She has kids that she will now never be able to dress for school again. She’ll never be able to comb her hair, brush her teeth, or go to the bathroom without help. She went from someone who cared for her family to someone who will need to receive care from her family the rest of her life.

Everything changed in an instant because of one bad decision.

Please don’t drink and drive.


  1. Wow. Just so very sad, all around.

    And something for all to think about.

    Thank you, Dr. Whitecoat.

  2. What a stupid, stupid decision.

    A question: If she’d been wearing a helmet, would that have kept her neck from being broken?

    • Probably not. And I say this as someone who rides.

      I had a similar case except it was a 17 year old girl who was drag racing in a car and wasn’t wearing a seat belt. She went through the windshield. Her parents flipped out and blamed the boyfriend and accused him of driving (threatened to sue the paper who reported otherwise, etc). Nope, she was the driver… And now she’ll wear a diaper and use a respirator. But at least she didn’t have a TBI.

  3. How tragic.

    I feel so sorry for her and her family.

    I pray there will be some kind of miracle or extraordinary circumstances that will help them in some way.

  4. Sad story – just found out the the unhelmeted MCC guy with a big subdural I intubated a few days back doesn’t look like he’ll make it. Came in breathing on his own at least and didn’t have much apparent injury besides the large subdural, few broken ribs and a wrist fracture – got to the OR very quick. Unfortunately cerebral edema won out.

  5. Dude……I got to brush up on my radiology. I could have sworn that XRays was of her arm and not C spine

    ER Doc

  6. When things like this happen, I get a physical pain in my gut. I never liked going in the rehab unit where I worked because most of the time, how I saw the patients was how they would stay. And seeing before photos was more than I could stand.

    May her family find the strength it needs to do what must be done.

  7. As Ron White says-” You can’t fix Stupid”

  8. And I hate to say, don’t ride motorcycles.

    • “Don’t ride motorcycles?” Sure, there are tragedies like this one — but for every paraplegic, there is a brain-dead but otherwise healthy organ donor.

      What, my a cynic?


    • but ERP you ski..that can be very nasty..last time I was at Breckenridge, a ten year old snowboarded into a tree and somebody wiped out on a double black diamond….equally disastrous results.

    • Yep, all the neurosurgeons in the hospital I work at think they should be banned. Probably around 25% of the patients in the neuroscience ward I worked in for a brief period were bleeds or fractures related to coming off a motorcycle – with or without a helmet.

  9. An excellent and sobering post to the sad realities of our jobs sometimes. For all the rewards, these type of outcomes never cease to break a little of my spirit…


  10. They don’t call them donorcycles for nothing. Before calling me an insensitive creep, I was told that by a dialysis patient.

    I guess the other blessing is she only maimed herself, and didn’t wind up killing/maiming another innocent person.

    Sorry, just not feeling it tonight. Good friend snuffed out by a drunk driver who nailed the family at 90 mph in a 45 mph zone. Clown staggered away and blew a 0.25. What was left of their car was unidentifiable. Killed everyone; Mom, 10 year old and 5 year old sons.

  11. SkullCandy – I am so very sorry for your loss. Senseless. The whole family. And the driver will have to live with that. So very sad.

    Not to take away from the tragedy SkullCandy is experiencing, but, after hearing of this tragic accident caused by a drunk driver …how many MORE people ..sober (and maybe not)..are out there driving while TEXTING? They say that is so much more dangerous than drunk driving. I think talking on a cell phone is 4x worse then drunk driving and texting while driving …even more so.

  12. We call them “ORTA’s”-
    Orthopedic Resident Training Apparatus

  13. I, personally, have survived two motorcycle accidents. I attribute the fact that I am able to type this to my helmets.
    Those who decry the use of a helmet are akin to those who decry the use of a seatbelt. They use similar arguments that, ultimately, mean nothing.

    This woman’s injuries were not caused by her motorcycle, they were caused by here disregard for safety and common sense. Lack of protective gear, speeding, and drinking were the cause of her injuries. The bike was an innocent bystander. She most likely would have torn up a car just as easily. DUI, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you will wreck, but ‘when’ you will wreck.

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