My daughter had a brain injury five years ago when she was 14 in which a portion of her skull pierced her brain. Doctors had to replace part of her skull with metal and screws. She has no lingering effects other than a changed personality and the odd headache.
She is still very active. She recently flew to New Zealand and wants to go skydiving. Would that be a bad choice based on her history?
There two issues here. The first is the effects of high altitude on the injured brain and the second is the potential effects of skydiving on the brain.
There is no published evidence to help us know if flying in an airplane after a head injury — especially one five years old — is bad. There is a theoretical risk that low oxygen tension at altitude will dilate cerebral blood vessels and even open the blood brain barrier leading to post-concussive headache or mild brain swelling. But there are no studies to substantiate this.
As for the effects of skydiving and the brain, as long as your parachute opens up, your daughter should have no problems!
That said, skydiving comes with obvious risks. If your daughter were to fall wrong and hit her head, she has a greater chance of more serious and perhaps long-term effects since she has sustained a significant brain injury in the past. It would also be prudent for your daughter to make sure she goes skydiving at a reputable skydiving facility — one that has passed accredited safety standards and has well-trained instructors.
Jeffrey Bazarian, MD, Dr. Bazarian is an emergency physician with a strong research interest in traumatic brain injury. He is associate professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery at the Center for Neural Development and Disease, University of Rochester Medical Center.
The contents of Brainline (the “Web Site”), such as text, graphics, images, information obtained from the Web Site’s licensors and/or consultants, and other material contained on the Web Site (collectively, the “Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for medical, legal, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. The Web Site does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Web Site. Reliance on any information provided by the Web Site or by employees, volunteers or contractors or others associated with the Web Site and/or other visitors to the Web Site is solely at your own risk.