How I Would Have Died: Traumatic Brain Injury
No Helmet? Bad Kitty!
Last week I wrote about how I could have died from a smashed seventh cervical vertebra (C-7). In the same crash, my first contact with the road was my helmet. I keep that helmet hanging on the wall in the room where I store my bicycles. It is partially crushed and broken in several places, but still in one piece. The helmet is orange and blue, the colors of my racing team, and streaked with blood.
In the crash, I touched wheels with another rider at 50 m.p.h. and flipped down to the road, landing on my right shoulder and forehead. In an instant I had ten broken bones—including three in my neck—but not one was in my skull.
When I crashed my bike my helmet worked exactly as it is designed. The expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam on the inside crushed. The smooth, slippery polycarbonate skin of the helmet slid across the road surface rather than grabbing it. And despite the violence of the impact, the wire-like nylon reinforcement cords embedded in the EPS foam and the nylon chin straps held that lifesaving ten ounces of plastic on my head.
Of course, I was quite a mess despite the helmet, but my head injury was no worse than a bad concussion. Without a helmet—or with a cheap or ill-fitting helmet—that could have been my last ride ever.
In case you are the sort of person who does not wear a helmet, let me point out that every time I've crashed on a bicycle or a motorcycle, I hit my head. Even the most innocuous crash can lead to a bad injury. If you tell yourself it won't happen to you, at least fill out an organ donor card so someone else can benefit from your next crash. In other words, use your noggin' and always wear a helmet.
Safe and Happy Holidays to All!