Updated 08 Apr 2014

Robert's broken neck

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Robert's broken neck

In 1979 Robert Palmer broke his neck while body surfing at Maroubra beach in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia (Maroubra is listed as a national surfing reserve). Thanks to 6 weeks of expert treatment at Prince Henry Hospital, he has since worked 35 years without sick leave.

John Matheson, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Prince Henry Hospital

Prince Henry Hospital, Crutchfield tongs with a pulley and weights.

Prince Henry Hospital with wife Valerie
Robert Palmer says:
"John Matheson gave traction to my neck and head whilst I was turned over, supervised the X rays (C6 C7 is difficult to get X rays of as the shoulders are in the way), made the diagnosis, shaved my head and inserted Crutchfield tongs with a pulley and weights attached, moved me to a high dependency area, re X-rayed me after an hour or so of traction, there was no change, he then put up a Valium and pethidine drip to relieve the muscle spasm which he thought was preventing the severe subluxation reducing and hey presto it reduced. I then lay stock still for 6 weeks (the sister said I was one of the best patients she had had).
When I got back to Massachusetts I showed a specialist my X rays and I had a myelogram as I was having some symptoms, but after a year it had all cleared up. I went back to work very quickly and haven't had any sick leave for 35 years."

Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, closed in 2001, and the site has since been sold for a housing redevelopment.



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