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One of our drivers has banged his ribs up, no accidents or anything, just hurt in the kart.

We've since padded his seat up which allowed him to race a week after initially hurting them and he got through the race.

A week later he is still sore.

Is there anything we can do to speed the healing process?  How long after it stops hurting do we need to keep him out of the kart for?

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Not a thing to speed it up.

Best thing to do is purchase a top quality vest such as the Bengio to prevent it happening again,

Define 'sore'.
Can he cough, sneeze and laugh without his eyes bulging out?
Simple bruising is a week or two.
Cracked or broken ribs is six weeks from the last insult!
Costochondritis.. Wait a week at least after there are no symptoms..
A hard shell rib protector that fits well will reduce the chance of rib problems..
Karting can be harsh on the ribs!
At least you know they are giving it a real go...
This is from real time experience, ha ha.

Thanks guys.  I reckon its just bruising.

He was running a armadillo rib protector when it happened which is supposed to be the gold standard in rib protection.  To be fair, we found the seat was tight at his hips and very loose up the top.

We've padded it out to take up the gap and he got through a race meet with no protector on but I think we need to buy him a better fitting seat.

Similar thing to me, hurt in the kart - no accident ect and I was wearing a rib protector (soft shell one).  I was out for a month with cracked ribs.  I bought a Bengio and have not looked back...... not one bit of pain, best money spent.  If your rib protector is not a hard shell then effectively its just padding in my opinion 

A common rib injury in karting seems to be separating the cartilage from the rib. This takes an age to heal due (I’m told) to the cartilage having a very poor blood supply. You're arguably better off actually breaking a rib since this may well heal faster (due to good blood supply). From experience, before getting back in the kart you need to wait until the ribs feel 100%, then wait maybe a month or so longer. Even when the rib cage feels perfect there is still weakness, and it doesn't take much to put you back to square one. My first experience with this, I didn't wait the extra time, was back in the kart as soon as the ribs felt good to go, then ten laps later...

I'm currently going through this again, I hurt the ribs some weeks ago in private practice. All you can do is wait, and take it easy, don't do anything that might damage them again. It's really easy to take two steps forward then one step back (or two steps back...). I've stopped doing the push ups and chin ups, and being very careful with everything else I do. Even so, they are taking their time to heal up. My experience is that every time you do something that causes any rib pain (even relatively minor) you are probably setting back the healing process.

I think my (Kartech) seat fit wasn't quite good enough (though it felt fine when sitting in the kart, and when driving it, until the ribs started to hurt). I also suspect the seat bolts may well have been contributory (the damage is right where the seat bolt is). I've made some much shallower headed seat and seat brace bolts (where the washer is integral with the bolt, and there is no significantly protruding bolt head). I've also made a chest protector vest. This is customised to the shape of my ribs, which are surprisingly different left vs right (never noticed this before shaping the left and right sides of the vest...).

I was going to buy one, but suspect a custom fitted vest is likely to work better given that a bought one is often only going to approximate an individuals rib curvature (with my ribs, even if it fitted well on one side, it wouldn’t on the other side...). Also, the vests that seem to be thought to work well (such as the Bengio) appear quite thick, and my seat would most likely need to be replaced to use one (my custom made vest isn’t as thick). Good vests are also a bit pricey, my custom vest probably owes me about $50 in materials...  

How well all this will work I won’t know until I can get back in the kart, but as I said the ribs are taking forever to fully heal...

Regards,

John.

Hi John,

Sorry to hear you have had rib dramas as well.  I know my issue was related to a seat bolt.  After using my Bengio I am confident that you could still drive a kart even if you had sore ribs (well depending on how painful of course), it is that good that it would not further create more injury.  After using my Bengio for the first time it has an indentation from a bolt that would have caused pain for sure...... I didn't notice a thing while driving.  I know it costs a bit but in my eyes well worth the money for sure, comfort wasn't an issue either.  If you are making one, I feel for it to be effective it needs to be of hard material.  My previous vest (sparco) in my opinion is no comparison to the Bengio, it was relatively hard but had panel whereas the Bengio one piece where its important to be.  Good luck with your development. 

cheers,

 Paul

Paul,

My home made vest consists of 1.6mm 'full hard rolled' aluminium sheet, with a foam inner layer (from one of those lightweight trekking mattresses), and an outer layer of thinnish carpet material. The two sides are held together across the back with webbing (held with rivets), there are adjustable webbing shoulder straps to hold it on the body, and an adjustable front strap with a 'click' type buckle.

The aluminium sheets have some elastic flex in them, but is fairly rigid. I'm theorising that some degree of elastic flex could be a 'good thing', so the ribs aren't being forced to conform into a completely rigid structure that may not be EXACTLY the same shape as the ribs are (despite best attempts to make them so), and that the ribs will probably change curvature under load (regardless of how good any vest may be). It may be that the metal might permanently bend under load, by which I mean plastically deform out of it's intended shape. If so then vest mark 2 might be made from 2mm sheet...

Only testing will tell. Without having actually used it yet, I'm very happy with the vest, it looks pretty good for what is effectively a prototype. It may be that with a vest I could drive the kart tomorrow, but I'm very cautious about driving before the ribs are totally healed, even with a rib vest. At the moment my ribs are OK for just about everything I need them to do, they aren't causing me any problems in day to day activity, but if I sit in the kart and push my torso sideways I can feel the injury enough to give me pause. With the rib protector on it's much better, but I can still feel the injury, even though the vest is redistributing most of the load higher up and further back.

I'm looking forward to trying the vest (never worn one before, because I used to be indestructible, but I'm 56 now...). Just sitting in the kart with it on I feel significantly better supported than I have in in any seat sans vest. I think it's likely that I'll be a lot more relaxed in the kart (at least it feels that way just sitting in it), allowing the forces to fling me into the seat without having to exert my core muscles as much. If so then I think I'll have a better feeling for the chassis behaviour, better steering feel, and it should be less fatiguing.

Regards,

John.

Hi John,

sounds like what you have made is very good and similar to the Bengio.  I 100% trust the Bengio, if I had pain and it was bearable I would drive with it.  You could have a market there if customers could get a casting to you..... good work

Cheers,

Paul

Paul,

I haven't actually closely examined any proprietary vests, so I'm not sure how close my design is to what else may be available (I didn't think I was interested in rib vests until I damaged the ribs this time). I just made what seemed might work. I probably should have gone to the track on a race day just to have a proper look at what people are using, but just getting to the track is hard for me, usually involving taking time off work.

First time I hurt my ribs was many (many, many...) years ago at the NSW State Titles, which I ascribed to a much grippier surface (than I'd ever encountered at club races), and a particular mid corner bump where old track surface met new track surface (also created an abrupt mid corner increase in grip as you hit the bump). This time it's due to much stiffer cased / grippier tyres (TAG restricted on MG Reds) than we used to run in Clubman, a much stiffer chassis, and a much stiffer axle (50mm vs 30mm). Also, the Manning Valley track is a lot bumpier than it was when I last raced (all those years ago). Of course it has nothing whatsoever to do with now being in my fifties rather than my thirties...

One thing about decrepitude, the ribs are taking longer to heal...

Regards,

John.

Unfortunately with the Ribs its just rest and healing.

You can speed the process up with swimming and anti imflammatories like voltaren but rest is king.

Never rush coming back after an injury as reinjury usually makes for triple the recovery time. 

It's getting on for a few months now, and my ribs are still not a whole lot better than they were some weeks ago. At this rate it might be a few more months before I feel confident that my ribs are up to normal karting duties (they’re no problem day to day, but karting may well be pushing it...). Without having tested it, I suspect my custom made (read home made...) rib vest may not be as effective as I need it to be. Just sitting in the kart and pushing sideways the ribs are much happier with the vest on than without, but I can still feel the injury which suggests the weakened rib cage will still be at risk.

So, what I thought needs to be addressed is the fundamental cause of the problem, i.e. that standard shaped kart seats are poorly designed in that they will always place the load on the rib cage, whether or not a vest is used, and regardless of how well they fit the driver. I think what needs to happen (for me) is take all (or at least most of) the loading off the ribs, and redistribute it onto another more robust part of the anatomy. So, I've made an extension / insert for the seat that allows the load to be carried largely by the upper part of the shoulders, taking nearly all the load away from the ribs (hopefully...).  Still not track tested, but with the extension fitted and sitting in the kart I can push laterally as hard as I can and not feel the rib injury, at all, so I'm hopeful it will work.

The seat extension is made from 1.5mm thick aluminium sheet that rises 120mm above the seat top (at the sides, is lower toward the middle of the back), and extends down into the seat ending just above my hips. It wraps around the back of the torso in a smooth tapered curve from bottom to top (narrower at the bottom, wider at the top), instead of the usual seat shape of being somewhat laterally flat across the back with tighter curves in the areas leading to each side of the seat.

This more consistently curved shape means that the seat extension wraps more closely around the arc of the torso, more closely matching the shape of the rib cage, rather than the ribs being supported only at the back and at the sides (leaving some of the rib cage more or less unsupported in the tighter curves between the side and back of the seat...). At the top, the extension is shaped outward to partially wrap around the rear of the deltoid muscles, so the upper torso is supported from each scapula around to the back / side of the deltoids.

To make it look nice and provide some minor padding the extension is covered on the inside with a carpet like material. The extension is held in situ using the seat and seat brace bolts, and two small bolts at the top / rear of the seat. The extension feels very rigid / robust despite the aluminium being only 1.5mm thick (still quite difficult to form into the desired shape), largely due to the curvature and that the edges have been folded over. I’d be very surprised if it turns out to not be strong enough for purpose. Significant padding doesn’t seem needed as the support is coming from the more correct shape of the extension spread over a greater area of the torso (particularly higher up). It’s very comfortable and secure feeling, at least just sitting in the kart, but only track testing will tell.

The extension will significantly stiffen the seat, which may or may not adversely affect the handling etc, but if it stops rib damage it will be a small price to pay.

A reading of the rules relating to seats; rule book page 122: “Must have only the following items bolted to it 1) ballast 2) batteries”) gives some cause to consider the possibility of this extension potentially being considered by somebody as an illegal modification, but I’m choosing to think of the extension as being part of the seat itself. If anyone were to officially protest it (or scrutineer look sideways at it) then I think fibreglassing it into position would see it fall unquestionably within the rules (as I read them...), though I’d rather not have to since it would be a deal of trouble to do so and structurally unnecessary.

Regards,

John.

PS, apologies for the small font, I wrote this in Word and pasted it in, which results in a small font regardless of how I try to edit it...

Or you could just get a ribtect seat..

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