broken neck

Evan snowboarding

My little brother Evan has been spending the winter teaching snowboarding in Aspen and had a serious accident today.

Apparently on the last run of the last day of the season, there was a problem with the snowboard. He flipping twice in midair before landing on his head.

He broke his neck — cervical vertebra 7.

But he can move his fingers and toes, which I guess is the important thing because it indicates no spinal cord damage?

I spoke to him at the hospital, where he was actually having dinner in his room. He seemed alright, a little drugged up, but in good spirits. He said he was fine laying down, but it hurt to stand or sit up.

The doctors did a bunch of tests tonight and are planning an MRI tomorrow (Tuesday) which will indicate whether surgery is needed. Either way, I guess he’s looking at a long time in a cervical collar. (Thankfully, he has a girl there taking care of him).

It sounds like he’ll be okay… but if anyone has any experience with this type of injury, please share it.

UPDATE 4/5/05: Surgery is set for tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1 p.m.

Evan said that after looking at his MRI, his doctor told him he was lucky he wasn’t paralyzed – but prognosis is good for a fully recovery within a few months.

UPDATE 4/7/05: The surgery went well, I’m told Evan is in some pain and somewhat cranky, but it looks like everything is going to be okay.

365 comments to broken neck

  • Pat

    for Smokey, I’m also 62 and fell down a flight of cement stairs on May 24th and broke C2 and cracked C7 and T1. I have beenin a minerva brace for the last 9 weeks and have 3 more weeks. Cant take it off at all, so no showers, yikes! Have been sleeping on a recliner most of the time. I now live alone and used to being independent so it was hardto askfriends for help. Are you still in a brace? Did you need Pt after it was removed? I am a bit scared to move my neck or to bend over when the brace is removed.

  • Luccio


    I broke my neck mountain biking. Fractured my c-3 and c-5 but didn’t require surgery. Doctor said c-3 was small enough not to require surgery but that c-5 was bigger and questionable wether it needed surgery or not. He told me to wear a miami j collar for 4 months and if it healed i would be good to start physical therapy. This happened July 7th so it’s been about two months. I was in the hospital one night and left while still in paid due to mostly bruising. After 1 week I had no more pain and haven’t had any major pain since then. At times I would feel a smell sharp pain whenever I tried doing too much like reaching far or bending over but I haven’t had any of that for about two weeks now. I do hear a short rice crispy kind of sound sometimes, alot less now compared to first couple weeks. I never had any any neurological problems since the accident buy I did feel a sudden shock around my entire body when I landed on my neck. Very thankful to be ok. I don’t see the doctor till another 4 weeks but I feel like I can’t already take this brace off, but of course I will listen to what doctor recommends. I’ve heard alot of worse cases so I do know I’m very lucky. It is very boring and frustrating but I’ve found ways to overcome that, I started reading, playing online poker(no money involved), and most of all smoking marijuana.

    At first I was hesitant about it because doctors are strict against smoking and drinking but I did some research and found otherwise. I’m sure it may affect bone growth somehow but not as bad as cigarettes do. I also found that it helps alot with the pain, but I didn’t have pain. I also read stories from others who broke their neck so I decided to email a few and ask about their experience while smoking and all of them said they smoked everyday and actually healed faster than doctor expected. I knew it wasnt same for everyone but I took the chance and haven’t regretted it. i smoke about 2 or 3 times a day. It helps pass time and also gets you interested in little things. I got into reading, and then into new hobbies, and now I’m taking online courses to learn a new language. Online courses are a very good way to spend your time at home.

    The collar is a pain in the ass but its alot better now than the first weeks. I found that I need to take a shower every other day and wash my pads at least twice a week to prevent a rash or itching, also I must shave every time I wash the pads. If you’re neck is already itchy and can’t take a shower and clean pads immediately then you can put a sock under your chin and that definitely helps, but you still need to wash your pads as soon as you can.

    Out in public is also another pain in the ass because you have everyone starting at you and asking the same questions. I’ve tried to stay away from the public as much as possible but sometimes you can’t do anything about it, I did buy a black soft collar to use in public but I would I wouldn’t recommend it, after a while my neck would start to feel very tense and I start getting back muscle aches. The neck collar would het itchy because of the heat and i would even start sweating very fast so sometimes i would just unstrap the collar and let it it dry. You can always read around and see what people find helpful but I found that staying home is the best for me. I can do a lot with my computer and keep me entertained all day, I do watch tv and movies though and I also exercise a little but with no weights. Squats and lunges are good painless exercises but use a spotter to be safe. That’s about alllll I got to say lol thanks for reading and good luck to your recovery. If you have any questions I am more than happy to help, Email me at

  • johnny cage

    im a 22 yr old male i was involved in a car accident with a driver that ran a red light on april 3, 2011. i broke my c7 bone. i was told by doctors it would be healed in 8 months; but this may just be something i have to deal with for the rest of my life, its been 2 years, i didnt have surgery and i still have severe
    pains whenever i try to go to sleep or work my muscles to much. im completely knocturnal now and have been for the past 2 years. sometimes i wonder what did i do in order for god to want to take away my good-night-sleeping privlages. i haven’t slept comfortably in 2 years i dont even know how a good night sleep feels anymore, it hurts more to lay down than it does to stand. everyday is a struggle and the fact that no one around me can relate makes it harder. everyone gets depressed when i walk into the room with my neckbrace on. as im typing this it is 4:44am meaning no sleep for me tonight, i have to be exhausted to even sleep no position is comfortable…i read a message above and started to cry because it was the first time i i felt someone could relate and thats why i decided to post.

  • johnny cage

    im praying for everyone & hopefully one day doctors will have a perfect broken neck cure

  • richard

    Im 22 years old and when i was 17 I rolled my jeep in the hills out here in idaho where i live, i destroyed my C-3 entirely it had to be replaced with a titanium artificial unit and the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae are currently held in place with a mesh of some sort. I have not slept to speak of since I was 17. I have severe sciatica as a result of the wreck and partial loss of function in my left arm from a compound fracture resulting also from the same accident. all things told i think im doing well. i am sore to some degree or another from the time i get up to the time I try to get some sleep for the night, only a couple times have i not been able to get up and I still find a way to continue my job as a CNA I have accepted by now the fact that I will never be able to do anything too physically demanding on my left side and no longer hold out hope for an active life after age 40, but im still happy and capable of taking care of myself. I hope everyone else will be able to continue on with life like i did, remember short of paralysis nothing can stop you but yourself.

  • cynthia

    hello, im cynthia and i was just in a car accident in downtown los angeles. it was a high speed chase,the cops where fallowing this crazy man in a corvette and it so happen to hit the car i was in. nothing happen to my friend,she was the driver. as for me i broke my c2 bone. I’m a dancer and a fixed gear cyclist. so after this accident i felt my life when down the drain . i thought i was never going to be able to move my legs .but lucky enough god is so big , I’m as strong as i was before the accident . i have a halo holding my neck right accident happen friday the 13th 2013. it was all over the news, because after the accident it so happen the cops shot the guy that hit us. i though i was in a video game so much going on that night. I’m 23 and super strong and positive i will recover. god is big and i know he will take care of me.

  • Chad

    I was in a downhill mountain biking accident which broke c1+c2 doctor said im extremely lucky to be walking. I Was placed in a halo for 3 months and a collar for 1. it has been a year and everytime I turn my neck left I hear loud cracking and sometimes pain shoots. I also broke my sternum in the accident. I want to get back to going to the gym and be less miserable. but im not sure if my body can take it. I use to be a power lifter. and when I get back into gymmode I wanna go hard. but I no I cant. I just need to get back in the right state of mind so this all goes away, guess one day at a time.

  • jon pier

    I’ve broke my left knee twice. back twice and now I’m on my 3rd broken neck. lot of pain. don’t go with a DCS. but I’d use a tens machine for pain. listen to your doc and start with the best in his field in your area. wait a year before surgery just as you may not need it,don’t think your not fixed even when your are as it only takes a second to be back where you were before.good luck and God Bless.

  • jon pier

    I’ve broke my knee twice,back twice and now on my 3rd broken neck. find a doctor that is best,THE BEST in his field.You want a Nero Doc. wait about a year as you may heal on your on. Do not got go with a DCS machine, use a tens for the pain. Don’t think it cant happen to you again.Good luck and God Bless.

  • shirley

    I am 65 fell at my front door causing my neck to snap back. I broke C2 C4 and crack on C5
    My husband thought I had whip lash told me just lay flat of my back. Next day I hurt so bad I made my Dr. Then sent me for x ray. I was called back and told I had broken neck.They puts brace on my neck been 6 weeks now. My thing is when I sit or stand I get so nauseous I can’t do anything. Will this ever go away. I do still have brace on.

  • Dena

    July 11th, 1993 I was involved in a single car accident. The driver was going 125 mph on a wet dirt road. He slammed on the brakes and sent the car fishtailing into the ditch at least twice, then rolled from corner to corner 13 times! I fractured my C3 in two places, crushed my R shoulder, had 2 complete breaks in my R clavicle, broke a few ribs and a finger, horrible concussion. I wore a halo for 3 months, hard collar for 3 months, then soft collar for a month. I did not have surgery. The removal of the halo was not painful for me itself, until I had to depend on my neck muscles that were seriously weakened from 3mos of no movement.
    This month I’ve started to notice cracks/grinds every once in awhile that is clearly on or near my C3 fractures. I can’t explain the fear, but it has brought back a ton of anxiety. Just the sound, and it being so close to my ears. Scares me. I can relate to many of you. I can promise you that the emotional toll it took on my life is devastating. I’d much rather deal with physical rather than emotional pain!! Good luck to everyone!

  • Dylan

    I’m 15, 4 months ago today i flipped a rhino ( yamaha 700cc buggy), i broke my neck (c6 vertebrae) , 6 ribs, punctured my lung and broke my shoulder in 2 places, i am now out of the brace ( MIA JTO) but i do remember feeling miserable during the time that i was in the brace, i wore the brace for 15 weeks, longer than i should have, i was told that i would make a full recovery in about 6 months and have had no complications since the accident, I’m just thankful to be alive and thankful that i am able to walk.since I’ve been out of the brace i have lowly started getting back into fitness and have even started skating again, not taking any thoughtless risks of course

  • Joe

    Hi There! I’m a 35 year old man from Portland, OR. I was involved in a mountaineering accident on Lane Peak in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State on the morning of May 11th 2014, Mothers Day. My climbing partner, who also happens to be my girlfriend, and I were on a moderately steep snow and ice route. It was a bluebird day and the conditions were fantastic. Nearing the top of the route and large amount of snow sleffed off from the rock wall to my right that lines the narrow chute we were climbing. It knocked us both off route with great force. my girl was able to quickly self arrest with her ice axe , but i was not. I ended up 800 feet down the chute, stopping by friction alone. I was conscience the whole time. I immediately got to my feet and stared checking for injuries, running my hand under my base layers looking for blood, moving my limbs, no pain no broken bones. My adrenaline was pumping and i was not feeling the pain from my neck, i also was not properly triaging the situation. I felt my lower spine, around my face and head. It was at that point that I turned my head to yell to my partner and a massive amount of pain shot through my neck. I immediately sat down and held my head in c-spine support with my hands. my partner down climbed to me and stabilized me, sitting me on our climbing rope to get me off the snow, and bundling me up in all of our emergency layers and a bivy. hypothermia is just as deadly as the fractured c1 and c2 vertebrae in my neck. so skipping the rescue portion of the story, I wound up with a fractured c1, and a type two fracture of the c2. My odontoid(dens) was completely broken off from its base. I was brought to Harborview in Seattle. I needed surgery as the c2 was a very unstable fracture. The doc laid it out as two choices. 1- a fusion of the vertebrae, or 2- to go in anteriorly and set screws to anchor in the odontoid. Both have a certain level of risk. He suggested option 2, which would preserve my mobility in my neck “so I can go back and finish the climb next year”. With a smile I agreed. The surgery was done, and the decision to put me in a halo was made, to be super conservative. I write this with 10 days left til the halo comes off(most likely). 10 day and 10 hours, but who’s counting ;) I have had the pins go loose twice unfortunately, but that has been the only negative to this experience, because as some of you know it is quite painful when they tighten them, and I dont take opiate based pain meds. I have been eating medical marijuana products though, lucky me I live in oregon! very effective, non addictive, and taste good too :) I have had a wonderful amount of support from my girl, my family, friends, and neighbors. and i am lucky to be a part of a union that offers me great health insurance that is covering most of my expenses. I havent had any numbness anywhere and I am extremely grateful to the universe for my continuing existence here :) sure its been tough, i wake up extremely sore, and I have had a few days where I have been down, but really generally keeping positive. and still finding out what I am learning from this. I am really looking forward to rehabbing my neck and being able to get more exercise, as i have been limited to walking only. Along with PT i will also be seeing a naturalpathic MD for acupuncture and massage. I will check back in a few weeks with an update. it has been extremely educational and rewarding to read all of your posts, thank you :)

  • alvinf478

    God has bigger plans for me’i was involved in a car a week and a half ago’i broke my c6 and walked away with my spinal cord intact.

  • alvinf478

    I had tremendous pain and still suffer through pain everyday and night but it has gotten better.I will be wearing a neckbrace for at least 4 weeks and then the drs. Will decide if I need surgery.The more post I read the more I realize how lucky I am.The c6 is broken but I still have my life and ability to walk.God is Good.

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