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View Full Version : Spinal Fusions and Jiu Jitsu



Jon Helton
01-31-2011, 09:12 PM
I had a potential new student contact me about starting classes. He has spinal fusions through his back. Basically, 2 big rods connecting his vertebrae together starting from his shoulders to his lower back. I know this forum has people who know more about this than me. What's the word? Is it possible? Or will it just take him trying out a class and seeing what kind of discomfort he has?

Feedback welcome. Thanks!

James O'Brien II
01-31-2011, 09:38 PM
I have spinal fusion, ankylosingspondylitis, but I have no rods..
I am no expert, but I would assume this character knows his body better than us.
I would stand behind the idea of letting him feel it out.

Good luck!

derrick ikwueme
01-31-2011, 09:54 PM
scary shit, is there no flexibility in his spine ? if so is there risk of major damage when in the many weird jits situations ? perhaps he should only play very lightly, & see a chiropractor first. make sure you have him sign a liability waver. this is tricky shit when dealing with health, I had a 300 plus pound friend with heart & blood pressure problems ask about jiujitsu, & i know it can help him, but were do you start with someone who's never tested there machine ? & fead it nothing but sludge, & if not careful could ''Die On Your Mat'' even from blood chokes, most of us can't comprehend being that out of shape.

Chris Herzog
01-31-2011, 10:09 PM
In cases like this I always require students get a note from their doctor clearing them to do contact sports, also ask your insurance provider.

Clinton lawrence
01-31-2011, 10:12 PM
wouldnt touch it with the rods in his back mate but thats just me

RobSchwartz
01-31-2011, 10:18 PM
I have a friend who had back surgery when he was a kid. I think he had to have some vertebrae fused together. He has been training for several years now, and is currently a brown belt under Charles Gracie. Overall it doesn't seem like it bothers him that much when he trains, although sometimes he has complained of it being sore after a very hard training session. The biggest thing is that it limits his flexibility in his back. You won't seeing him playing inverted guard or anything that puts a lot of stress on the lower spine, but he has adapted his game well. Also, I recall that the UFC fighter Nate Quarry had to have vertebrae fused together in his neck and actually returned to fighting afterwards. So my guess would be that he should be able to train, but I would follow Zog's advice and make sure you get a note from his doctor before you let him start rolling.

stlnl
01-31-2011, 10:47 PM
A waiver really releases you from liability. But I would agree for his safety, that he consult his doctor/neurologist first.

I would also watch the guy like a hawk, and make sure his first couple of weeks are serious hand holding sessions.

Scott Elkin
01-31-2011, 11:04 PM
Yeah, many white belts also suffer from ego-no-tappy-itus, which normally could be ok, but if this guy doesn't realize the torque that could be put on his back in various positions, he may not know to tap.

Maybe do a light roll and test out his flexibility so that he can learn his limits? I mean, he may not even be able to do basic forward and backward rolls and break-falls.

Pete Daly
01-31-2011, 11:13 PM
In cases like this I always require students get a note from their doctor clearing them to do contact sports, also ask your insurance provider.

Good policy. The doctor will be able to tell him whether or not he can participate. This is NOT a situation that a chiropractor can diagnose (although they do have their uses), and in a case like this, you need the expert medical advice that most physicians can provide. I will say that these things usually don't prohibit people from physical activity, but they do usually limit people's range of motion. Surgeons have gotten pretty damn good at locking those rods into place so that they won't move an inch. Ultimately, it should be the doctor's call, not his and not yours.

bobby rivers
02-01-2011, 12:46 AM
Coach, you know a doctor is gonna tell him no. Could you get a doctor to clear you? jussayin

Dave Brown
02-01-2011, 12:38 PM
Jon you could just let him roll with me we could start our on bad back division of 10th planet :) but in all seriousness I think herzog was on point.

Chris Herzog
02-01-2011, 12:52 PM
Coach, you know a doctor is gonna tell him no. Could you get a doctor to clear you? jussayin

Its about liability. Being the Head Coach its my job to protect everyone; the potential student, the academy, the owner of the academy and the rest of the students at the academy. If a doctor won't clear him, he can't train at our place. I'm not going to risk the owner loosing his gym because of it. We owe it to the rest out our students to make sure they aren't at risk either whether its a potential lawsuit or them loosing the place they train and invested time and money in. We've had to turn down people in the past because our insurance provider said they wouldn't cover a student. When it your lively hood your perspective changes. And whether a doctor would clear me or not is irrelevant, I'm in charge;)

Jon Helton
02-01-2011, 12:58 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys. Insurance provider didn't have a problem with it as long as my waiver was signed. I'm still gonna get the doctors permission and just just take it easy with him. Very easy.

Chris Herzog
02-01-2011, 01:09 PM
Jon just so you understand waiver are NOT full proof. They are just a consideration in legal matters.


...and just so I'm not misunderstood, if the doctor came back and said "no", I'd feel for the guy. However those of us that have been in the game a long time understand what could happen and we know more than the doctors when it comes to what the student will be subject too, they are just going off a bare boned basic understanding of what we do, leaving the instructor with full cupability. That is not something I'm willing to shoulder. I live with (as does my wife and some extent my students)the damage I've done to myself over the years, I'm not going to be responsible for allowing it to happen to someone else.

Jon Helton
02-01-2011, 01:27 PM
Thanks for the input Coach. That's why I posted it up. Some of you guys have a lot more experience with this sort of thing than me.
It is probably just better to turn him down and avoid everything. I would hate to cause more damage to him and/or possibly lose my business because of it.

stlnl
02-01-2011, 03:04 PM
Jon just so you understand waiver are NOT full proof. They are just a consideration in legal matters.


...and just so I'm not misunderstood, if the doctor came back and said "no", I'd feel for the guy. However those of us that have been in the game a long time understand what could happen and we know more than the doctors when it comes to what the student will be subject too, they are just going off a bare boned basic understanding of what we do, leaving the instructor with full cupability. That is not something I'm willing to shoulder. I live with (as does my wife and some extent my students)the damage I've done to myself over the years, I'm not going to be responsible for allowing it to happen to someone else.

A waiver isnt of course fool proof, but it is pretty darned solid against litigation regarding things that are likely to happen in a grappling class. The grey area of a waiver is usually regarding neglect or reckless behavior with regard to an instructor. A guy who goes into a grappling class, with rods in his back, reads and signs a waiver knowing its physical if pretty much legless legally.

My point, and I should think everyone's is to get the guy's doctor to clear him for his own health and well being. But I would agree in the litigious climate of today's USA, it doesnt hurt to be careful.

bobby rivers
02-01-2011, 03:15 PM
And whether a doctor would clear me or not is irrelevant, I'm in charge;)

Lol. Word!

bobby rivers
02-01-2011, 03:28 PM
I'm not going to be responsible for allowing it to happen to someone else.

Do you think you could have gotten where you are without the injuries? Cause I want your life. Awkward?

But, i do realize that this is a much more sensitive case than most and should be treated with great caution. He's seriously compromised. My case is what you alluded to earlier Chris. Doctors often see great risk in what we know as a controlled training environment. They often say things like 'no contact sports' when they have never played a sport. Is there a super waiver? No doctor could ever tell me not to train. But I dont have rods in my back..

Chris Herzog
02-01-2011, 07:56 PM
Do you think you could have gotten where you are without the injuries? Cause I want your life. Awkward?

Like an grizzled old lion, its just made me a bit meaner ;)

Chris Herzog
02-01-2011, 09:27 PM
A waiver isnt of course fool proof, but it is pretty darned solid against litigation regarding things that are likely to happen in a grappling class. The grey area of a waiver is usually regarding neglect or reckless behavior with regard to an instructor. A guy who goes into a grappling class, with rods in his back, reads and signs a waiver knowing its physical if pretty much legless legally.

My point, and I should think everyone's is to get the guy's doctor to clear him for his own health and well being. But I would agree in the litigious climate of today's USA, it doesnt hurt to be careful.

It sure as shit wont stop them from trying. Win or Loose a small business can loose its ass forking over between 5-10K for defense and legal fees.

stlnl
02-01-2011, 10:03 PM
It sure as shit wont stop them from trying. Win or Loose a small business can loose its ass forking over between 5-10K for defense and legal fees.

Actually though, that is what an insurance policy for most martial arts businesses actually covers. Legal fees for lawsuits (which they will not do if you dont require a waiver) or oddball incidents like something falling off a wall onto a person training in the gym, and of course insuring the actual property against fire and the like. But it would be a bad time to find out your insurance company decides not to stand behind its policy.

Chris Herzog
02-02-2011, 06:07 AM
Actually though, that is what an insurance policy for most martial arts businesses actually covers. Legal fees for lawsuits (which they will not do if you dont require a waiver) or oddball incidents like something falling off a wall onto a person training in the gym, and of course insuring the actual property against fire and the like. But it would be a bad time to find out your insurance company decides not to stand behind its policy.

I sure it varies from provider to provider, we've never had a policy that covered legal fess, everything else but no legal fees and we've had a variety of providers since I started teaching my own program (97')