Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016
Sports | By

ON THE SIDELINES: Protect your noggin’





If you know me or read my column regularly, you know I’m a huge fan of the Olympic Games.  My family and I watched the Rio Games morning and night for most of the two weeks it was occurring.  Those of you out there like us saw the horrific bicycle crash in the women’s road race event.

Just in case you missed it, Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten, 33, was leading the race and took a winding curve, on one of the final mountain descents in the race, a little too fast.  She lost control, couldn’t make the curve, and ended up crashing, flipping over and hitting her head on the concrete curb.

Her helmet probably saved her life.

It’s impossible to say that for sure, but she hit with such force that even with her helmet she was knocked out cold.  Vleuten was transported to the area hospital where she was treated for a concussion and three spinal fractures.

She is going to be ok and is recovering from her injuries.  Thanks helmet.

According to an article in HealthDay news, 800 cyclists are killed and another 500,000 (yes, that’s one-half of a million) people are treated in emergency rooms in this country each year due to cycling accidents.  Two-thirds of those deaths come from injuries to the head and face.

The article didn’t mention statistics on those killed and injured that were wearing their helmet versus those that were not.  That would have been interesting to see.

A study released on Wednesday, Aug. 24 by Dr. Seena Fazel, professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford in England, alleges that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) suffered by young people can have lasting effects.

Fazel noted, “The worst outcome is clearly premature mortality, but after that the increased risks of psychiatric hospitalization are notable.”

According to the CDC, TBIs contribute to around 30 percent of injury deaths in the United States with an average of 138 people dying each day as a result.  “Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (i.e. vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (i.e. personality changes, depression).”

The CDC states that 248,418 children age 19 and under were treated in 2009 for sports injuries which included a TBI diagnosis.

While helmets will not protect against all injuries, they will, at the very least, lessen impacts and help to avoid serious injuries.  I like very much that some sports such as football, roller derby, baseball (hitters), and certain others required them.

At the same time, I’m amazed at other sports such as rugby, skateboarding, and speed skating that don’t.  Granted, many people take it upon themselves in these sports to wear protective gear, but they aren’t normally required.

The last word here is simply, protect your noggin’…you only get one.