Posted on April 4, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 11 of 32 in the series Quinn

Skull Fracture and Ice Reduced Brain Damage: Quinn Part Eleven

In part Eleven Quinn talks about the skull fracture he received in the accident and how the skull fracture relieved pressure on the brain but the skull fracture caused other complications such as damaging his inner ear. Other than the skull fracture his heart stopped beating for a time immediately after the accident.

While there is much we don’t know about severe brain injury, two things we do know is that pressure can kill and that keeping the brain cooler, helps.  Quinn despite all of the complications, likely benefitted from his skull fracture which relieved pressure on his brain and the fact that during the period his heart wasn’t beating, his brain was cooled by the presence of the ice that injured him.

Did you get any therapy when you were in Bethesda Hospital?

I don’t know if it was in the hospital or out of the hospital.

What do you remember about your therapy?

I had to learn how to walk again. I was very dizzy.  I couldn’t make it from the couch to the bathroom without falling so I had to literally hold on to things and it was, it was tough on me.

Was the problem because your muscles weren’t working properly or because you had no balance?

I think it was just balance.

Quinn’s Skull Fracture and Inner Ear Problem

Now, you had a significant injury to your inner ear because of the skull fracture?


Talk to me about that.

All I know is that the skull fracture cut through the tube in the ear and that would allow the drainage from the swelling.  And because of that I think I’m alive still otherwise the pressure without the relieving the pressure on the brain, I probably would have died and not come back.

Has anybody ever suggested to you that you might have had a little bit better outcome because you were on the ice during the period of time you were, your heart wasn’t beating?

Just me.  I believe that.  I truly believe that the ice helped cool me down.  I think that was the part that saved me.  Obviously they started my heart back up, that kind of saved me and I think the, I mean, just, you know, my wife being a PA and seeing people in not as bad of a shape as me die.  You know and why didn’t I die? Why aren’t I a vegetable, you know.  It’s just amazing.

You have a couple of different mechanisms of potential injury.  You have the, the skull fracture direct impact, and in all probability you injured the other side of your brain as well.  We’ll talk about that, but you may also have some additional brain damage from your heart wasn’t beating.

Mm hmm.

Has anybody discussed that with you or diagnosed that?

No.  I think the heart stopped for a short enough time.  I think they got it started quick enough.

Do you have any idea how long it was?

Minute, two minutes.  You know the accident was traumatic enough that the game stopped.  The coach jumped on the ice, jumped on my chest quick enough and the guy who started my heart up, walked across the ice, ran across, you know.  Got on the detail or the chest compressions quick enough and he was a medical assistant.  He knew how to do, how to get me started and amazingly, luckily he did.

You have any idea why your heart stopped in the first place.

No.  That’s a question of the chicken or the egg that my wife keeps asking and nobody can answer that.

Have you had any post-injury cardiac testing?

I finally had a full cardiac workup, I think a full one, or I did, I rode a bike and they tested the, tested the heart.

A stress test?

Yeah, a stress test so that we did just recently.  The neurologist that I was seeing never suggested it, never, you know, but my wife kept asking questions and when we went to the local support group, the Brain Injury Support Group of Florida, we got a ton of information and learned a ton of what to expect or what to look for so we did get a  cardiac workup and everything looks fine, I guess.

Any evidence of a historic heart attack?

In  me?  No.

But the testing didn’t show that you had a heart attack.


Any cardiac history in your family that would indicate that you might have had a heart attack at 39?

Yes.  My father and his three brothers all have heart issues.  All have had – three of the brothers, they’re still – my father and two of his brothers still alive and have had heart operations, multiple issues, heart attacks and what not.

At what ages?

In their 40s to in their 60s.  My mother’s side, so the left side of my heart, will beat forever.  Her aunt just died last year at 103.

Are you in better physical shape than the father and his brothers were at that age?


Hockey especially, referring games would be games and hours at a time, would be very aerobic activity.


Were you in excellent physical shape when you got hurt?

I mean, I was heavy.

Not as fit as you wanted to be?

Yeah, exactly.  I mean, I’m still trying to lose weight.  I lost 20 pounds in two weeks in the hospital.

What’d you weigh when you got hurt?

I weighed about 240 and I got down to 220 in two weeks.

How tall are you?


Next in Part Twelve – Loss Smell Correlates with Brain Injury

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447