How to Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries
As you run out the door to jump on your bike, you hear your mom or dad yelling, “Make sure you wear your helmet!” You roll your eyes and yell back, “Why? It’s hot on my head and I won’t fall. I don’t need to wear a helmet!”
I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times from your parents, but why do they say this? Riding bikes, skateboards, and participating in many other potentially dangerous activities puts you at risk for injuries. More specifically, they put you at risk for traumatic brain injuries known as TBIs. Webster’s dictionary defines a TBI as, “An acquired brain injury caused by external force.” This is, more simply, an injury to your brain due to hitting your head on something. It doesn’t take much force to give yourself a concussion, a type of TBI. Helmets work by slowing down the motion of your head at a slower rate compared to a direct strike. Remember, it’s not the fall that hurts you, but hitting the ground and decelerating is what causes the significance of the injury. You can think of your brain as a bowl of jello and a helmet as a pillow. The jello will be intact when you drop it onto a pillow, but dropping the jello on hard ground will have a more detrimental impact. The pillow works to decrease the rate at which the jello (or your brain) hits the ground. TBIs can have serious long term effects on your health like memory loss, inability to concentrate, and even permanent disability. A TBI can also change your behavior, leading to possible behavioral problems.
When I was 8 years old, my mom told me that my grandpa had been in a serious bike crash and was taking a helicopter to the hospital. Later that day, we went to visit him. He had broken ribs, a bruised lung, and a broken collarbone. He was black and blue all over and he had his helmet sitting on the bedside table. He called us over and showed us how parts of the helmet were ground away and there were cracks in all the foam. The helmet was utterly destroyed but his head was okay. He didn’t have a single scratch on his head. To this day, he claims the helmet saved his life and I believe him. Every time I think it’s not cool to wear a helmet or it’s too hot, I just remember this crash and I don’t think twice about putting on my helmet. The next time your parents tell you to wear a helmet, remember why it’s important!
Helmet safety tips
● Always wear a helmet that fits you perfectly. If it doesn’t fit, it can’t do its job.
● Many helmets have expiration dates. Make sure your helmet isn’t too old to function properly in the event of a crash.
● Wear the right helmet for the activity. A rock climbing helmet isn’t built to do the same job as a bicycle helmet.
● Have fun! You can ride a little bit easier knowing your head will be protected in the event of a fall.
● Remember, everyone needs to wear a helmet every time they ride. Help your parents set the example if they need a little help remembering.
This blog was written for Healthy Young NV by Corban, a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.