Want to Avoid Brain Damage? Wear a Bike Helmet!

Read MoreFrom Independent.com

Helmet use reduces the odds of a head injury by up to 50 percent and further reduces the odds of facial or neck injury by 33 percent.

 

Have you noticed how many people ride around our town without a helmet? I asked a younger friend about this, who informed me, “Wearing a helmet isn’t cool.”

Pity.

Any real cyclist knows that there are two types of riders: (1) those who have gone down, and (2) those who will go down.

I should know. I have gone down — more than once.

One of the only times I did not wear my helmet, I was slowly riding my bike behind my house when my foot slipped off the pedal. I was thrown down, my head hitting the pavement. I was able to get up and walk into my house, where I promptly passed out on my bed. When I finally woke up, I had no idea how long I had been knocked out. Needless to say, I had an ongoing headache for three days.

Fortunately, I did not suffer the long-term symptoms of a brain injury: difficulty thinking, attention deficit, memory problems, or mood swings. For others, severe injuries of this nature can lead to depression, employment problems, relationship issues, frustration, aggression, and increased mortality.

An increasing number of drivers are distracted by texting or talking on their cell phones. A bicyclist is easily missed, especially by a tourist who is busy taking in the scenery rather than focusing their attention on the road.

Cyclists, many of whom are students who use cycling as their main form of transportation, are vulnerable to the distracted driver.

Various studies (by, among others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Transportation, and American Journal of Surgery) highlight why it is so important to always wear a helmet: