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Thread: Flying and Spinal Stroke

  1. #1
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    Flying and Spinal Stroke

    Greeting

    I had a spinal stroke about two months ago resulting in waist down paralysis.

    Gradually I am getting modest power back in my legs and am optimistic that I will be able to get consider a short flight back to Denmark where I have been living.

    However, I am anxious as to the dangers of pressurised flight on a two hour flight and that internal pressure changes in the body may cause some adverse effects.

    Does anybody have experience of flying with a spinal stroke, in period of months after the attack? Does anybody know of sources of information or assessment criteria on this.

    Having done a few searches for scientific papers and having red a medivac manual on flight risks, I am none the wiser although I note that the pressurisation rate is a control factor in medical evacuation for some patients but what the criteria is and how it relates to stroke is not clear.

    The trip by road-ship will take 2-3 days so I am anxious to find solid information. The surface trip would involve bringing an escort which doubles up the problem.

    Many Thanks for your kind attention to my enquiry.

    Malachi

  2. #2
    I am no expert but I am a general aviation pilot. I can tell you this much. When you are flying in a pressurized jet the pressure maintained in the jet cabin is the same as if you were on the ground at an elevation of somewhere between 6000' and 8000' in altitude. It will make your ears pop because the pressure changes at a faster than normal rate. Depending on the altitude that yoiur are starting from you may not experience a big change.

    It is probably a good idea to have a doctor address how this will affect you physiologically.

    Hope this helps some.

    Grange
    L1 Complete - Injury 3/12/06 - Grateful to be alive!!!!

  3. #3
    If you did not have the spinal stroke when you flew before you shouldn't have a problem now. Did you have an AVM- whar was the cause of the spinal stroke?What treatment did you have? are you on medication? You should ask your doctor
    CWO

  4. #4
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    I have taken four coast to coast u.s flights. since my accident. I have very bad kindey pain and usually bloody caths for a day or two after flying, and once burst a blood vessel in my eye. I always get a headache too, so im not sure if the comment about pressure being the same is correct. I think it is the cabin pressure affecting me when I fly. I dont know what else it could be, and it happens every time I fly. I get a similar kidney pain, though not as bad, when in an airconditioned room.

  5. #5
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    Dear All
    Thanks for your answers on this specialised question. Jody that is a very worrying experience you have been kind enough to share.

    I did work as a med scientist in vascular flow and for many years in aircraft design and have been aware of many cases in airlines where injuries and weaknesses get aggravated by the pressure change rate. But its really a very specialised question and I am trying to get some pointers on how to start assessing this risk.

    I know perfusion of gases out of blood for divers gets aggravated by flight shortly after diving with dramatic consequences. The body contains many gas filled pockets including in teeth.

    Please let me know if anyone out there has also had bad experiences of flying and concerns about pressurisation effects.


    Many thanks
    Malachi

  6. #6
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    Dear Sci Nurse
    I should have replied to yr questions. The Neurologist believes I suffered a clot and am now on Lipitol (cholosterol buster) and aspirin 75mg.

    Might be worth mentioning in case anybody else is intersted that Wiki has a large section on 'Diving and the bends' which looks briefly at flying. In science paper reference 37, attention is drawn to injury and effects of decompression during flying and in Wiki article on Neurological risks (but at extreme depressurisation by comparison to airliners).

    There are obviously medical doctors who specialise in this area of judgement called , I believe 'Flight Surgeons' mainly military I suppose.

  7. #7
    As long as you are something to prevent the clot such as Aspirin- you could even take a double dose the day of the flight- you should be fine.
    CWO

  8. #8
    One other comment I would make is that the pressure change experienced under water when diving is MUCH greater than the pressure change experienced with an increase in altitude in the atmosphere. (Water is much heavier than air.)

    Jody.... If you are refering to my comment (I could not find any comment about the pressure being the same) you might want to reread what I wrote. My statement is correct. Let me give some more information and an example.

    Anytime a person flies above 10,000 ft in altitude for more than 30 minutes they must have supplemental oxygen. Above 10,000 ft the air is too thin and you will eventually pass out from a lack of oxygen. Most major commercial airports in the US are built at an Altitiude of less than 5000' above sea level or ASL. Denver International is the highest in the U.S. at 5431 ft. ASL. When commercial jets take off they pressurize the cabin at the equivalent of somewhere between 6000 and 8000 feet above sea level. So although the plane may fly at an altitude of 35,000 ft. inside the cabin our bodies still think we are around 8000' ASL. My statement was to point out that if a person took off from an airport that was at 4000 feet above sea level and flew in a pressurized commercial airliner which is pressurized to feel like you are at 8000 feet and then landed back at another airport that was around 3000 feet they would have only experienced a change of 5000 feet. Under water that would be a BIG DEAL. In the atmosphere not so much.

    I will say some peoples bodies handle altitude change better than others. Usually it depends on how often you experience a fluctuation.
    L1 Complete - Injury 3/12/06 - Grateful to be alive!!!!

  9. #9
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    Just to follow up on this and close the subject a bit, I did take the flight many times and was very worried initially that I would loose sensation or power in legs again. There were in fact no sensation problems or other negative outcomes. Its important to be seated in an aisle near the toilet with a weak bladder. the airports were very courteous one they see walking aids. However, getting down the steps of a small plane in rain is dangerous so wait till almost last off and ask for help especially if rails are wet.

    The airport also helps with walking practice as distances are large and the floor is good.
    They x ray the crutches and help you through the scanner.

    Hope this helps somebody else.

  10. #10
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    Dehydration
    It might also be worth mentioning many months on that bladder incontinence was a worry. Drinking say a pint of water over an hour before the flight was my plan and it requires careful planning as once you go by security, you have to buy the water.

    Visiting the WC just before boarding is important as you can be delayed and strapped in. I bought stick on bladder incontinence kit with a bag but was not impressed by the powerful skin adhesives involved. There is a much better balloon type container that can be purchased which can be used by making a slice in a trouser pocket. Sounds amateur but it works very well

    Anyway, getting an aisle seat on the plane is important and just introducing yourself to the air hostess will bring a lot of help if you mention that you have a a disability.

    Don't forget the sticks, even if you can walk well as you will encounter steps and tricky events whereby people need to know that you cannot walk normally.

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