Friday, November 2, 2012

Helmet nazis


At Valley Medical, the older doctor wanted to make sure I protected myself against further brain injuries. He asked pointedly if I wear a helmet.

It seemed hilarious that my brain was injured in a car, but he didn't warn me at all about traveling in cars.

Check out this pie chart. What are the leading causes of TBI? Yet when people find out I'm a cyclist there's a lot of finger-wagging about helmets. I find it annoying. Even from fellow cyclists I find it annoying. Maybe there's a medication for people who get annoyed too easily...

I said yes (most of the time, but he doesn't need to know every little thing). Then I used the opening to point out that helmets are no panacea. They only help with 2 situations on a bike:
  • the single bike accident
  • the slow speed collision (<20 mph) with another person or thing, where you can't roll or break your fall
Single bike accidents are largely preventable by the rider. There are a few exceptions (front tire blowouts, large animal encounters) but they're quite rare. Higher speed collisions are often fatal for the cyclist, so not a risk for TBI. Brain injuries are not an issue for the deceased.

If the advice matched the data, guidance on behavior should look like something like this:
  • when you're walking, pay attention to where you're going
  • do yoga or some other practice to improve/maintain your sense of balance
  • don't climb on anything, including stairs
  • after it's rained or snowed or frozen outside, move carefully on smooth surfaces
  • in cars, only travel with drivers you trust with your life
  • don't ride in any car without airbags for every passenger
  • don't ride in any car traveling at an unsafe speed for the road conditions
  • maintain a 2-second buffer between your car and the car in front of you at all times (impossible here in the Bay Area)
  • don't look at your smartphone while moving your bodily position
  • don't get in fist fights
...and finally
  • work on your bike-handling skills
  • make a habit of wearing a helmet on a bicycle, most of the time
Of course, that would be stealing his candy. That feeling of superiority you get from patronizing a captive patient in an exam room.

That must be even better than a Peanut Butter Cup.

1 comment :

  1. Your list of advice sounds an awful lot like common sense (where possible to follow). The smartphone line made me laugh...
    What did he say when you told him helmets aren't the cure-all?
    And did anyone ever explain why you weren't seeing the guy you had the appointment with?

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