A broken femur (aka thigh bone) sustained when a bicyclist is hit by a passing motorist is a serious, deeply painful injury that will likely require surgery. The femur is the large bone in the upper part of the leg. The break can happen near the hip bone, near the middle of the femur, or near the knee. Different kinds of trauma can damage the femur, causing it to fracture into two or more pieces.
This type of accident will often keep a cyclist off the road for months at best. Although it is relatively rare, sometimes multiple surgical repairs are needed that may result in negative side effects like losing an inch or more of leg length. As with any surgery, there are other risks which the surgeon will discuss with the patient before the operation.
ORIF: Open Reduction Internal Fixation Procedure to Repair a Fractured Femur
The procedure most often used to stabilize and repair a broken or shattered femur is called an open reduction internal fixation or ORIF. Using general anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision to allow realignment of the fractured bone. Special metal devices (screws, plates, rods, wires, or nails) called internal fixators, are used to hold the bones in place while they heal. In the most common operations to repair a femur fracture, the surgeon inserts a rod or large nail into the center of the bone. A plate next to the bone, attached by screws, may also be inserted. Fixation devices may be attached to a frame outside the injured leg.
The Recovery Process After Femur Fracture Surgery
The time period for recovery can take four to six months, depending on the severity of the fracture and whether the cyclist has sustained skin wounds or damaged blood vessels and/or nerves. In the majority of surgery cases, the rods and plates helping the bone to heal will not be removed.
Post-operation at home will mean not placing any weight on the injured leg for a while and using a cane, crutches, or walker. Physical therapy exercises to build up strength and flexibility should be done on a regular basis. The home environment will need to be modified to create a safe zone with easy access to bathroom facilities. Care should also be taken to make sure that the wound incision does not become irritated or infected. A doctor needs to be consulted if there is abnormal drainage from the incision, redness, swelling, numbness, or severe pain around the cut. Some patients may also need to take a blood thinner to prevent blood clots for a while after surgery and will need to have stitches or staples removed about a week after surgery.
Potential Psychological Damage After a Bicycle Accident
A broken femur isn’t at all like having a broken wrist or a broken toe. The extended time required for complete recovery can be difficult to handle psychologically. Getting back to a routine and level of regular exercise that makes a person feel optimally well is not a certainty. Someone who is used to riding on a frequent basis will experience muscle loss and a decrease in overall fitness in the short term. Not being able to do much of anything physically over a period of months can be stressful and can create doubts about ever returning to normal, enjoyable activities. Fortunately, most cyclists are able to return and experience cycling at a high level of enjoyment.
What to Do in Case of a Broken Femur Resulting from a Florida Bicycle Crash
In a serious bicycle crash that necessitates femur surgery, money damages may be recoverable to include emergency and surgery expenses, medical and rehabilitation bills, occupational and physical therapy treatments, lost wages or the ability to earn money in the future, mental anguish, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been seriously injured in a bicycle crash in Florida, please contact us online call our office at 727-446-0840 to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney who can navigate the complexities of financial recovery while you or the patient can focus on physical recovery. Although our primary office is in Clearwater, we represent cycling and other clients throughout Florida.