Be an Empowered Cyclist: Wear A Helmet

I don’t understand why adults don’t wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle.  I know all the excuses like it gets too hot or it doesn’t look good or I can’t see well.  When I am out riding, and I see someone without a helmet, I want to scream                   “Put your helmet on”.

I guess I am a fanatic about it because my helmet saved my life in a serious biking accident.  I don’t really remember what happened except I woke up off my bike on the side of the road.  My helmet was cracked.  It seemed I tried to avoid a an animal while going down hill.  I came out of my pedals, slid across the road and hit my head.  My helmet took the impact and cracked.  Beside a fractured hip, my brain wasn’t working properly and it took me a long time to get my circuits back to normal.  I had a  concussion.  And it isn’t a pleasant memory.  However, If I hadn’t had my helmet on, it would have been much worse.

There is much misinformation about the nature of concussions.  Many people believe a concussion can only occur if the head is hit on something hard, then bleeds or swells. It is not the only way.  A concussion  occurs if the head is moved rapidly back and forth and then stops suddenly or  if the head is spun around.  You don’t have to loose consciousness to sustain a concussion.

After an event occurs, the brain’s neurotransmitters become depolarized and release a cascade of chemicals that cause the symptoms of a concussion like confusion, nausea, headache, blurred vision and memory loss.  If the brain is jarred in any way, this reaction will start.

With one concussion,mild or severe, a person is four times more likely to sustain a second one.  Repeated concussions need less of a blow to injure and more time to heal.

Professional football players has suffered the most damage of repeated hits to the head.  A 2009 study of retired NFL players with three or more concussions, showed that the incidence of early onset dementia was increased  – 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30-49.  Another study in 2007, of 595 retired players with three or more concussions, 20.2% reported depression.  That is three times the rate of those players who did not have concussions.

Finally the league has implemented stringent rules on head hits and recovery times from concussion.  It also continues to improve helmet design for safety.  Hopefully, it will provide support to those retired players with suffering with depression and early onset dementia.

There are many sports that need to step up and recognize the potential for long term brain injury from concussions.  Some of these sports include, soccer, lacrosse, cycling, skiing, snowboarding and boxing.

So humor me and wear a helmet when you ride a bike.  A concussion is no fun!