Protect your brain and protect theirs
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
Just beside this column in today’s Daily Times, you should find an article on head injuries and bicycling. Since I ride a bicycle pretty regularly (OK, very regularly), I was interviewed for that article.
If you read this column even occasionally, you probably already knew that I ride a bicycle.
Friends, family, and bare acquaintances often question my sanity since I choose to share roads on a two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicle that weighs barely 20 pounds with vehicles weighing in excess of 2,000-4,000 pounds, wearing what is not much more than a piece of plastic covered Styrofoam on on my head.
I mean, there is no doubt that if a bicycle collides with a car or truck, the bicycle loses.
Yet, I’m still out there and plan on being out there as long as my body allows.
But one thing I will not do: Ride without a helmet.
I won’t roll down my driveway without a helmet on my head.
Statistics tell us that bicycle helmets save lives. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, riders with helmets had an 85 percent reduction in their risk of head injury and an 88 percent reduction in their risk of brain injury.
Unfortunately, the Center for Disease Control, reports that only 15 to 25 percent of children 14 and under usually wear a bicycle helmet.
In Tennessee, that is against the law. The Tennessee Bicycle Helmet Statute (Tennessee Code Annotated 55-52-105) says: “With regard to any bicycle used on a state roadway, it is unlawful for any person under sixteen (16) years of age to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when so engaged such person wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet ... ”
Yet, I see kids all the time riding without a helmet.
Again, according to the Center for Disease Control, Head injuries account for 62 percent of bicycle-related deaths, for 33 percent of bicycle-related emergency department visits, and for 67 percent of bicycle-related hospital admissions.
The Snell Memorial Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards. They have found that the number of bicycling head injuries requiring hospitalization exceeds the total of all head injuries from baseball, football, skateboards, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, in-line skating, and lacrosse. Combined.
That indirect costs for injuries to unhelmeted cyclists are $2.3 billion yearly.
And according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 weren’t wearing helmets.
What I also see too often is mom and/or dad riding without a helmet but the kids are wearing theirs. What, your brain isn’t as important as theirs? Suffer a serious brain injury and see how it impacts your kids.
So, the bottom line, is if you’re on a bicycle, wear a helmet. And not the cheapest one you can find at the big box store. Your noggin is too important for that.
Go to a bike shop and get a good one. Get a bike shop employee to help make sure it is a good fit and then ask them to teach you how to wear it properly. If they don’t seem to have time, you’re in the wrong shop.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)