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Published On: 10.21.2014 Charlotte, NC

Bike Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury

Precious Protection

Bike helmets were designed to prevent catastrophic, life-threatening blows. But new research is finding that concussions could be as dangerous as splitting open your skull. And that brain bucket you own? It was never designed to prevent concussions.

Your helmet’s a beauty, right? It’s light, aerodynamic, comfortable and full of vents. See that sticker on the inside, the one from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and maybe another from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)? That’s proof your helmet is designed to protect you through all sorts of nasty impacts: slamming your head on hard dirt, against a tree, into a rock. No matter what, it’s got you covered, right? Maybe not. Turns out, helmets were developed only to protect against massive head trauma, like cracking open your skull, and simply haven’t been designed to prevent less immediately catastrophic injuries like concussions. What’s more, none of us—not you, not me, not the helmet manufacturers or even the testing agencies—know for certain whether your helmet will prevent you from getting hurt.

So What’s That Sticker Inside Your Lid Actually Mean?

It means some tests have been done, and that the helmet had to pass one or more of them, and that the tests were designed, at least in theory, to minimize the chance of death from a blow to the head. But, surprisingly, none of these tests are conclusive and many scientists still debate the level of protection helmets need to provide. This debate has intensified as concussions receive more national attention from doctors, researchers, scientists and athletes. Right now, everyone is wondering whether helmets—across many sports—could do more to prevent a concussion, or in doctor lingo, a “mild traumatic brain injury.” But as we’re learning, few head injuries are truly “mild,” and mountain biking presents a clear hazard of getting a concussion, or several.

What’s The Big Deal About Concussions, Anyway?

In rudimentary terms, a concussion is what happens when your brain bangs against the insides of your skull. In the short term, a concussion can cause loss of memory, blurred vision, headaches and nausea—effects that can persist for months. But the long-term consequences, especially of multiple concussions, can be far worse.

So while the National Institutes of Health counts 1 million concussions per year in the U.S., Swart and other experts believe that number is probably too low. Still, even if the figure is 2 million, that’s still less than two-thirds of one percent of Americans. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember that even one concussion can cause problems. Mountain bikers who suffer a few during their lives are putting themselves at risk of long-term brain damage, which seems to be an issue that would lead to the design of helmets that better prevent so-called “minor” brain injuries. There’s a lot of potential on the horizon, but we’re not there yet. And to understand why, it helps to know how the modern helmet was developed.

We Can Help

The experienced attorneys at Charles G. Monnett III & Associates provide free initial consultations, support and assistance in finding resources to help you and your family deal with serious injuries caused by the negligence of others. We can also help you pursue a legal action. If you or your family would like more information about your legal options and determine whether you have a claim, call our office today at 704.376.1911 or toll-free 800.977.3077…. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.