Why does it take the injury of a hockey superstar to bring the discussion about head injuries back in to the headlines? Of course, it’s tragic that Sidney Crosby, the current sports hero of all Canadians (remember his last minute goal in the 2010 Olympics that captured the Gold medal for Canada) has suffered a serious head injury. Hockey fans are distressed that Sidney Crosby’s concussion has forced him to sit out 8 straight games with no timetable for a return. What concerns me even more is head injuries are permanent! Once the brain is damaged, it won’t repair. Unlike a broken arm which can heal or a hip that can be replaced, we’ve only got one brain for life and it can’t be fixed! Sidney Crosby is still a young man with a very promising future ahead of him. Yet he is sitting at home at the moment unable to focus on the television. Concerning brain injuries, do you know what drives me crazy? The flippant attitude some people have towards safety helmets! Although safety helmets won’t guarantee complete protection from head injuries (after all, Sidney Crosby was wearing one), they are still our best defense. And until we have a better piece of equipment to protect our brains, I will insist on my kids wearing a safety helmet whenever they are biking, skiing, and skating. I’d force them to wear one tobogganing as well except they’ve outgrown that sport. Heck, I even told my kids I’d like them to wear helmets while golfing – not because they are lousy golfers (they are actually scratch golfers) but because of the other golfers on the golf course who can’t hit a ball straight if their life depended on it. In response, my kids understandably laugh at me and accuse me of simply trying to sell more helmet covers to golfers! LOL!!! [caption id="attachment_1180" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Natasha Richardson"][/caption] I bet if we had the opportunity to ask Natasha Richardson, the actress who died last year while skiing without a safety helmet on a beginner slope at Mt Tremblant, if she would do things differently; she would now choose to wear a safety helmet. So why do I still get challenged when I remind some parents the law requires their toddlers to wear a safety helmet even when they are riding a tricycle on their driveways? Some parents think I’m crazy when I encourage helmet use for tobogganing even after I inform them there are more head injuries incurred while tobogganing than skiing & snowboarding each year. And, of course, some people are quick to call it a “police state” when we suggest that helmet use for adults in skiing, snowboard, and biking should also be mandatory. I guess they would rather have the right to kill themselves or severely maim themselves than be forced to wear a helmet. Here are some facts:
- Every 15 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a traumatic brain injury. Of the 1,000,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms each year, 50,000 die and 80,000 become permanently disabled because of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is higher than the combined incidence of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
- Brain injuries occur more frequently than breast cancer or AIDS. One out of every fifty Americans is currently living with disabilities from TBI. There's even an association between head injury and Alzheimer's disease later in life.
- More than 100,000 Canadians are brain injured every year. It’s the leading cause and death amongst young men.
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