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Medical Problems

In this section I plan to describe a few of the medical problems I have heard about in Bungee. In Bungee you are subjecting your body to a lot of strange forces that don't normally occur in nature so it is little wonder that some medical people are concerned about the effects. I personally have had no problems during or after a jump. I recently developed a bad back which I was worried about. My doctor said it was all to do with my bad posture and Bungee Jumping would be good for it as it is very similar to traction! Great News.

Temporary Blinded

One case I heard about was a jumper turned temporarily blind after doing a jump. The explanation was that the blood vessels in the retina had burst under the pressure and caused blindness. I believe the jumpers sight returned to normal after a few days though.

I have since heard this condition was reported in the medical journal The Lancet after someone did a study into the medical dangers of Bungee. This was the only problem they could find. Other activities which can cause the problem involve lifting heavy weights and having a dump.

Recently I was mailed by a guy who said his friend suffered from this very problem. His case wasn't so severe and he was only afflicted with blurred vision which cleared up after a week or so.

Red Eye Picture

This picture is from Stijn's Website where he describes that his doctor thought that the condition was more likely if you scream

I have also since found out that this problem is more likely to occur if you are Drunk - don't drink and jump!

From: Kate Carstairs

I read your medical problems with bungee page, and believe that I can shed some more light on the temporary blindness problems. These are usually caused by an increased pressure within the eye during a bungee. Sometimes a blood vessle bursts, and this can clear up after a while. However, there may be more serious implications. If the burst blood vessle is near or in the retina (the part in the eyeball that collects light and allows us to see), then the retina can become partially or totally detached. The symptoms will range from "floaters" in the visual field to partial or total loss of sight. There are operations which can repair the damage, however, they are uncomfortable for a long while afterwards, and eyesight is very rarely restored to its original quality.

Joint problems

I received this story from Alejandro Arboleda recently and have included his message below

Here in Columbia Bungee is very popular, but people don't know the consequences of this activity. I love Bungee and I searched the web for interesting things related with this sport, and when I saw your page of Bungee disasters, I read it. I'm writing to tell you about a young Colombian boy.

Juan Pablo was in Oregon (USA) 2 years ago, and he did a Bungee jump, at the time everything was perfect, except for a little pain, but he didn't pay to much attention, a few days in home and that's it.

Five months after this he began to feel a little annoyance and he started to limp. A fracture in the osseous affected the femur because of bad blood circulation in this area.

Here in Bogota and in Cali many doctors saw him and everyone said that these is a case of "Necrosis Avascular" (very serious) the fifth in the world, and some doctors exposed these case in France.

Today Juan Pablo is 36 years old and he has to use crutches for the rest of his live.

And moreover we hear many cases like this, other one is a boy that today finds it impossible to move his arms and legs (quadriplegia) and many other testimonies of the danger for Bungee practice.

Mill Spec cords bad for you?

This from Macho: and is related to both of the above

Sometime 1991. Mill-specs Cord used from UK that stretches less than 3 times. They are not very feasable for Bungie. Mill-specs are forbidden for public use in Germany, they are have been incidents where the lens of the pupil in the eye have loosened due to the shock, as well as a woman had her hip dislocated due to a jump on mill-specs. Normally mill-specs in the way they are put together doesn't stretch more than a mere 150%.

The following is a slightly edited version of what was posted to alt.urban.legend by Malinda McCall in 1994. I found it on the now defunct The Urban Legends Website. Malinda kindly gave me permission to reproduce her information here

Subject: Is Bungee jumping dangerous?

Yes and no.

Given that there are several articles available detailing bungee-related injuries, yes.

Given that we don't know the percentages of safe vs. unsafe jump sites and safe vs. reported & documented injuries, probably not.

True: bungee jumping has injured some folks.

Medline to the rescue again:

Simons, R. Krol, J.
Visual loss from bungee jumping.
LANCET. 1994, Apr 2. V343(8901). P 853.
Habib, NE. Malik, TY.
Visual loss from bungee jumping.
LANCET. 1993, Feb 19. V343(8895). P 487.
Torre PR. et al.
Bungee jumper's foot drop peroneal nerve palsy caused by bungee cord jumping.
ANNALS OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE. 1993 Nov. V22(11). P 1766-7.
Hite PR et al.
Injuries resulting from bungee-cord jumping.
ANNALS OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE. 1993 June. V22(6). P 1060-3.
Harries, M.
The ups and downs of bungee jumping [editorial].
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1992 Dec 19-26. V305(6868). P 1520.

Juicy details:

  • A 19-year-old woman sustained a nonfatal hanging injury.
  • A 28-year-old man sustained a unilateral loced facet with resultant quadriplegia.
  • "To date there have been five recorded deaths world wide, and four critical injuries." --1994.
  • An 18-year-old woman presented with loss of central vision in both eyes after a bungee jump.
  • "As expected, subjective ratings on anxiety and stress increased prior to the jump (and were markedly reduced after the jump)."
  • "No previous report of (peroneal nerve injury) in bungee-cord jumping." --1993.

Realise that you stand a risk of being injured if you bungee jump. Note also that this is a NEW sport and that absence of recorded injury does NOT mean the sport is safe, only that up until now very few injuries have been attributed SOLELY to bungee-cord jumping and discussed in medical journals. Try it at your own risk, and ask your doctor first. :)

Best case scenario: You succeed in leaping off a tall place and have no injuries and impress your wuss friends who aren't inclined to risk their necks after watching that guy hurt himself on "America's Funniest Home Videos" or whatever. (The guy who discovered too late that the cord was [a] too long and [b] not strong enough to zap him back up due to his weight and [c] not attached properly to his body.)(He lived.)

Worst case scenario: You jump and manage to suffer vision loss, nearly hang yourself, become paralysed, suffer stress and anxiety, then die as you fall off the cord. Your wuss friends are not impressed. Your tombstone says, "HECK! That doesn't look dangerous to ME." Your screams echo for a while, a doctor names your symptoms after himself and gets rich and famous, your parents are bummed, you cat runs away and is never seen again.

Note also, that since bungee-jumping is so new, people could be sustaining injuries that either will show up later on and annoy them in their old age or which are cumulative.

I was going to make a crack about evolution and survival of the fittest, but I'm a wuss and wouldn't leap off a tall thing with a bungee cord attached to me for a LOT of money, so I need to hush up and let some folks who WOULD, except that it is unsafe, speak their minds instead.

I really like the best case and worse case scenarios :-) Please remember this was written a few years ago and the sport has increased in safety a lot since then. I made this list and yet I still jump as often as possible. Of course the decision is yours.

I recently found these Bungee Medical Links.