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Tom Arnold

Hooray, I slept 2 and a half hours! Woke up at 0630 after drifting off around 0400. Feel a little more refreshed!
I stumbled across this website last night when trawling the internet for more information about exercises I might be able to do. I am really pleased I found it! It is so good (and sometimes rather scary) to hear other people’s experiences.
I suffered my injury on Friday 15th August at 9pm. I was flying my tandem paraglider at a local hill in Dorset. I was taking a group of three friends up for their first tandem flights. The first two flights were wonderful and we had a lot of fun. On the last flight I took my friend Ruth. By then it was about 15 minutes after sunset (it is legal to fly up to 30 minutes after sunset) and the wind had dropped right off so it was only a very short flight from the top to the bottom of the hill, only a couple of minutes. Usually we take off at the top, fly around sometimes as high as the clouds, and then land back where we started ready for the next flight. Still, it was better than nothing so we headed for the bottom landing field. However, there is a barbed wire fence running along the end of the field and I misjudged our approach. When I realised we were going to hit the barbed wire I stuck my legs out either side of her to protect her, and took all of the impact on my right leg. Thankfully she was completely fine. She quickly saw how much pain I was in and suggested calling an ambulance. I said that I thought it would be ok and that although it was painful perhaps with her help I could hop to the nearest road. So I stood up with an arm around her shoulders, screamed bloody murder, and flopped back down on the grass! So then I agreed to call an ambulance. To cut a very long story slightly shorter, Ruth dialled 999 and the other two made their way to the bottom of the hill to find the nearest road which turned out to be about 500m away across waterlogged muddy fields. They managed to find a house that was fairly near by, and the owner of the house came out with his 4×4 truck. Between the 4 of them it took 3 hours to get the ambulance directed to the road nearby. That was with 4 people, a police helicopter, and 3 GPS receivers and 2 iPhones sending out coordinates. Meanwhile I was going in and out of shock, shaking violently and breathing in short gasps. Very frightening. Eventually Mark (the local with the 4×4 truck) loaded the paramedics into his truck along with stretchers, drugs, entonox, and other equipment, and brought them out to me. They drugged me up and manoeuvred me onto the stretcher. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, even with several morphine injections and chugging away on the Nitrous. They loaded me into Mark’s truck, across the fields, and finally into the ambulance. We then went to Dorchester hospital. By this time it was almost 1am (4 hours after the crash) and I was still in shock and rather panicky, drifting in and out of consciousness. Thankfully they managed to calm me down and start me on regular morphine and they started doing x-rays to find out what the damage was. At this point I had convinced myself that it must be just some bad bruising and maybe a bit of muscle damage. I was rather shocked (although not surprised) when the doctor gave me the diagnosis:
Right knee injury with vertical shear medial femoral condyle and medial tibial plateau fracture with involvement of posterior tibital spine and anterior tibital spine.
They transferred me to a very nice ward, where I spent the following week. They took 5 days to make the decision not to operate, at which point they put my leg in a full-length fibreglass cast and I came home the day before yesterday. Since then I have been on the sofa day and night, using crutches to get myself to the bathroom. The night before last I tried sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but I woke up after an hour in such intense pain that I crawled back onto the sofa and had a short sleep there.
The doctors in the hospital told me that I would be NWB for at least 6 weeks. They will be x-raying my knee every week to assess progress. They said that they can’t rule out surgery, but hopefully it will not be necessary as it is a fairly risky procedure to get the 4 screws in through the back of the knee past all the blood vessels and nerves. If all is well, they will replace my cast with a brace fixed at 20 degrees, and then after a few weeks they will allow a 45 degree movement in the brace.
The physio at the hospital told me that if I work hard on my exercises then I should be pretty much back to normal in around 3-6 months, although it could be up to a year.
I can’t wait to fly again, but I guess I’ll have to be patient…

If you are interested to see the two flights before the one on which I crashed (which thankfully I wasn’t filming), have a look at my youtube channel here:

The specific videos are here: and here: