Hmpf (hmpf) wrote in little_details,

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Surviving a fall from a height, with lasting damage?

Setting: present-day Britain

Previous research: seriously, too much to list here. Endless, repeated google searches over a space of a year or so with a huge variety of search terms; all kinds of medical info sites and, of course, wikipedia; personal conversation with a nursing professional... thing is, the info I need is fairly specific, and most of those sources (excepting the nursing specialist) only gave general types of information.

Here's the situation. I have a character with the following medical history:

1.) Hit by a car; my research indicates there would probably be fairly bad leg fractures, with that type of collision. These seem to have healed well, though – no detectable limp or anything.
2.) Same car accident resulted in a coma of unknown length – minimum eight weeks or so, I'd say, because any visible damage from the accident was fully healed when he woke up. Circumstantial evidence suggests it was quite a bit longer – I'd say anything between three and six months is a fair bet.
3.) Made a full recovery and returned to work in what seems to be record time. No timeframe given. I'm not sure what's plausible, but I think there's no way the recovery time from the coma would not be several months.
4.) Character then jumps off a roof (height: six or seven floors). Falls, and probably lands, feet down.

My research indicates that the most likely result of landing on his feet would be for the thigh bones to be driven upwards through the pelvis and into the trunk, causing all kinds of probably fatal damage. Question #1: is there any way the result of this type of fall and landing could not be 'horrible, gory death' but rather, say, 'really bad damage to legs, but no fatal damage to vital organs'? Say, if he lands at a bit of an angle, so the force of the impact is distributed differently? Or, perhaps, could his bone density still be affected by the long bed rest he's just recovered from (assuming, for the sake of the argument, a phenomenally short recovery time, and a long period of immobility before that), and his legs therefore break more easily, sort of acting as a natural crumple zone? (I'm really sorry for that image... really.) Or could the previous fractures influence the result? Etc.

Question #2: if there is a way of making him survive the fall – what type and severity of damage may we be looking at? And what may be the long term effects?

I know from my research that all the likeliest ways of surviving a fall from a great height tend to involve circumstances that lead to surprisingly limited injuries (e.g.: falling on something soft.) Thing is, for the purpose of the plot, I do need this fall to result in lasting, relatively serious damage. So I need a plausible way to make him survive, but with severe injuries. I'd also like to avoid the lasting damage to be paraplegia, for a variety of reasons (reason number one: it's probably the most common disability in fiction.) So, given that, plus the fact that he does probably land more or less on his feet, I would prefer badly mangling his legs to breaking his spine. (And yeah, I am aware that a combination of both is actually not unlikely, but let's just say he gets really lucky in the spine department, okay?)
Tags: ~medicine: injuries to order
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