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Bruce Goodin, File Photo. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Five time showjumping Olympian Bruce Goodin is counting his lucky stars as he prepares for an operation after breaking his C7 vertebrae in a fall while competing last week.

Speaking from his hospital bed in Lund, Bruce says they plan to operate this evening (NZ time). “They will go in through the front of the neck, push my windpipe and whatever else is in the way to one side, remove the disc between C6 and C7 and then insert a titanium plate to stablise the break. Then they will fuse C6 and C7.”

The upside is that he has been told he won’t really notice any loss of mobility and after possibly having to wear a soft neck brace for a couple of weeks will avoid having to wear a stiffer brace.

It will be three months before he is able to ride again, giving the bone time to grow and fuse around the pins holding the plate, but the situation could have been way worse.
“As the doctor explained the other day . . . there are only two outcomes from an injury like this. One is that you are lucky – like I am – and the other is you are paralysed from the arms down. There is no in between. There are very small margins between a good outcome and a very bad one.”

Bruce was competing in a 1.35m aboard a relatively new horse when she spooked at a water jump. “She jammed on the brakes, put her head down low and I flew out the front like a bullet going head first into the bottom rail of the jump. When I look at the video, my head and neck didn’t hit the ground at all. The injury came from going head first into the bottom pole.”

Bruce could move everything after the fall but says he just felt things weren’t 100% right so got checked out at Linköping Hospital. MRI and CT scans were done and it was discovered he also had ligament damage and a broken disc. It was decided to move him to Lund Hospital for the operation putting him nearer to home.

“I have had time to get my head around it now and while it is annoying and a bit scary I feel super fortunate.”

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison