The Kevin Swindell crash at the 2015 Knoxville nationals was a worst case situation for a spinal injury. You can see what happened to the car in the video. The aftermath for the driver was two badly damaged vertebrae and a spinal cord injury. Certainly the car had the best of everything but the injury still occurred. Although we don’t know how the seat was configured, the forces all aligned to create maximum damage. The accident looked nasty and ended quickly but was not much different from lots of sprint car crashes. Oddly the nasty looking part was the car being launched up into the air and flipping. But there was little impact in all of that.
The injury happened when the car landed in the worst way. Four things happened all at once that magnified the forces on the driver’s back.
1. The car landed flat on the frame bottom from a height of about 8 to 10 feet. This alone, in a straight down drop, will create enough compression force to fracture or crush vertebrae.
2. The car landed backwards while still moving along the track and stopped when it hit the ground. This loaded the driver fully against seat back holding the spine in perfect vertical alignment with no opportunity to bend.
This would prevent any force to be absorbed by the body bending in any way.
3. The car bounced after it landed. So as his body, head and helmet were still moving down from the frame bottom impact, the car (and seat bottom) jumped up, further compressing the spine from the bottom while the body weight was still compressing from the top.
4. Apparently, the rear or driveline got into the seat and may have contributed to
one of the injuries. Although we can’t know how much each contributed to his very serious injury, it’s clear that the combination of these factors, all at the same instant, created a perfect storm for a very high spinal compression force. The vector sum of the forces loaded the driver into the back, bottom corner of the seat.
Kevin says that the torque tube or rear hit the seat.
This impact apparently dented the seat and impacted his spine.
But in February Kevin Tweeted what we suspected all along:
It was a Frame Bottom Impact.
The broken arms are just an indicator of how hard he hit.
The compression breaks were about waist level and mid back,
much higher than the torque tube impact would have been.
The injury was very severe but lucky that it wasn’t worse.
This is the information sent out by the family soon after ... Kevin Swindell Reveals Injury Details by NSSN Staff Kevin Swindell has revealed more details about the back injury he suffered at Knoxville Raceway. LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kevin Swindell has revealed more details about the back injury he suffered on Aug. 13 at Knoxville Raceway during the FVP Knoxville Nationals. Swindell said in a Twitter post on Sunday that he broke his L-1 and T-7 vertebraes in his back, with each vertebrae requiring eight hour surgeries to repair. He indicated that the damage to his L-1 vertebrae was so bad that doctors removed a rib and used it to create a new vertebrea. He was released from Des Moines Mercy Hospital in Iowa on Aug. 21 and was transferred to Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville, Ky., where he will begin working to regain mobility in his legs. A recovery fund has been created for donations to assist the four-time Chili Bowl Nationals winner’s recovery: Kevin Swindell Recovery Fund, c/o Spire Sports + Entertainment, P.O. Box 638, Cornelius, N.C. 28031.
The L1 is the top lumbar vertebrae at about waist level.
The T-7 is mid back between the chest and abdomen.)
A CRASH PAD not only provides compressible space to reduce spinal compression but
also provides space between the driver and impact from the rear or driveline.
Drivers have told us there were dents in the seat after a crash that they never felt through
their CRASH PAD.
A hit that dents the seat can go the distance of the thickness of the CRASH PAD before it gets to you!!
The forces in this crash were so severe and compounding that there probably would have
been some injury even with a thick CRASH PAD in place but we are sure it would have been
much less serious.
The old adage is "If you hit something hard enough... it will break."
....but I'd rather land on a sponge than a sidewalk.
Reduce your Risk of Spinal Injury with the CRASH PAD.
Find Information about the CRASH PAD at the tabs at the top of the page.
CRASH PAD Products - http://www.802solutions.com/crash-pad-products/
CRASH PAD Dealers - http://www.802solutions.com/dealers/
Kevin Swindell ready to help others after his own devastating accident.
By Jerry Bonkowski
Dec 9, 2015, 4:17 PM EST
Nearly four months after suffering serious back injuries in a sprint car wreck, Kevin Swindell is letting his legion of fans know he’s doing well and continues his bid to come back from his injuries.
Swindell, 26, son of legendary sprint car driver Sammy Swindell, gives a first-person account of his journey from the incident to his current condition today in the first of several planned blog entries on OneDirt.com.
The younger Swindell was originally injured on Aug. 13 in a sprint car race in Knoxville, Iowa. His car got collected in a multi-vehicle wreck, flipped several times and hit a retaining wall before coming to rest on its wheels.
Swindell suffered several fractures in his back and spinal cord and underwent two surgeries over the following eight days at nearby Des Moines Mercy Hospital before being released.
Here are some rather poignant excerpts from Swindell’s first blog entry, courtesy of OneDirt.com:
“You could say I’m semi-paralyzed from the waist down. I can voluntarily kick both legs outward to a straight position. I can also lock out my knees enough to stand with a walker. I haven’t gotten any movement back in my ankles or feet to this point, but the doctors and therapists say that the upper leg comes back before the lower.
“Right now I go to therapy for two hours, three days a week. I also just added an extra hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays to try and get as much as I can.
“I spend 30 minutes or so standing with the help of my therapist. They place electrode pads on each muscle group of my legs. This helps them contract to strengthen them. It also serves as a method to try to activate the nerves, which could encourage them to wake them.
“They then harness me upright in a structure that helps hold some of my body weight over a treadmill, while someone on each side helps me move my legs for an hour or so.”
While dealing with his adversity, Swindell,, who also has 30 Xfinity Series start and one Sprint Cup start on his racing resume, is still maintaining a good spirit.
“I can’t say this doesn’t suck, because it does,” he wrote. “Though with the help of my fiancé, family, and a lot of great friends there hasn’t been much that I haven’t been able to do just three and a half months after breaking my back in two places and going through 16 hours of surgery.
“Therapy has now become the closest thing to a job I’ve basically ever had. When I was driving for my dad I had to be at the shop at certain time every day to work on my stuff.”
In addition to therapy, Swindell tries to keep his hand in racing by operating a thriving t-shirt production business.
He’ll will make a rare public appearance this weekend at the PRI motorsports industry trade show in Indianapolis. It will be another form of good therapy for him.
“I’m really looking forward to PRI,” he said. “I’m hoping to spend some time meeting with people to discuss how we can prevent what happened to me from happening to others.
“We’ve spent a lot of time worrying about our necks in Sprint Cars. It’s time to think about our lower back and realize that the driver is truly the only thing there is to give when a car lands flat on the frame the way I did.
“I had every piece of equipment to the newest standards you can get. From a HANS device connected to the best Arai helmet to a full containment Butlerbuilt seat with an insert under me I had everything. Yet one of the softest flips I’ve probably ever taken is the only one that’s ever hurt me.
“I don’t regret any portion of that night. I just hope that we can learn from it and move things forward to try and prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
(Our note - The "insert" he had was not a CRASH PAD.)