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Helmet question for jswan

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  • Helmet question for jswan

    I did not want to ask about this in the other thread, as it is off topic and I have given my condolences already. To me, there can be no "tsk tsk" ing or I told you so after a tragedy, but there can be reminders of the preciousness of life and learning.

    But, Jswan wrote:

    You wrote, "eliminate the possibility". The very sad truth is that helmets will not reduce the chance of serious head injury. They only reduce/mitigate minor head injuries
    Do you have a reference for this? I'd be interested, as it is not something I've heard before (most of my helmet research has been in motorcycle/bicycle area, but certainly in that area helmets mitigate major injury).

    Knowledge is power
    Last edited by Ambrey; Nov. 16, 2007, 10:16 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by J Swan View Post
    The very sad truth is that helmets will not reduce the chance of serious head injury. They only reduce/mitigate minor head injuries.
    I'm glad you started a new thread for this as I've got the exact same questions.

    Seems more like people who are wearing helmets have only minor head injuries, so I guess you could say that the helmet only mitigated an already minor injury. On the other hand, maybe if they hadn't been wearing a helmet, the "minor" injury would actually have been major.

    I think it is ridiculous to assume that the wool has been pulled over our eyes and that helmets (bike, motorcycle, horse-back riding) don't protect our heads from serious injury. We know they can protect from neck and back injuries, but they are designed entirely to protect from serious head injury. I would really like to know where your information came from.

    Comment


    • #3
      Having taken a bad fall (horse hung a leg and flipped) that resulted in a cracked helmet and only a minor concussion, I can only say I'm sorry, that's simply ridiculous. My helmet saved my life and yes, it definitely "reduced the chance of a serious injury."

      Comment


      • #4
        No - just anecdotal and personal observation. Actually - the helmet manufacturers will probably have the information you need.

        You'd want to ask someone like Deltawave, who is a physician, or someone who can point you to the actual studies done on helmets (or other safety equipment)

        I've noticed on this board that some people treat helmets as if they completely eliminate the possibility of head trauma. As I've seen for myself - if the accident is bad enough - or medical treatment delayed for some reason - the injury can be severe. Even fatal. Some injuries are crushing injuries. Some cause swelling that cannot be controlled. Some that might have been fatal result in permanent brain damage requiring 24/7 care.

        I don't automatically assume that a person injured in a car accident wasn't wearing a seatbelt. I don't make similar assumptions about a rider in a riding accident. People think - riders falls and hits head. Therefore the helmet would have prevented any injury. But people get dragged, kicked, crushed, run into trees, impaled, all kinds of things. In the head.

        I question those who think a helmet is a miracle product that will keep them safe. I always wear one, but do not think for one second that it eliminates the possibility of severe head trauma. Just like a safety vest does not eliminate the possibility of spinal or other trauma. (some people do think those vests offer that level of protection!


        edited to add - you are taking my posts completely out of context. I was responding only to a poster who stated that helmets "ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY" of head injury.

        I too have fallen and cracked my helmet. It acted as designed and REDUCED the level of injury I would have sustained had I not been wearing it. However, I still suffered an injury. No manufacturer that I'm aware of has made the claim that these helmets will eliminate the possibility of a head injury - even a severe one - when worn.

        There are many types of accidents - and they are all different. The accident I witnessed in which a severe head injury was sustained was by a person wearing a certified helmet. And yes, there were those that were surprised that the guy got hurt - because helmets were supposed to PREVENT injury.

        They can't prevent injury. They can only reduce or mitigate it. I'd never ride without my helmet. But I'm not dumb enough to think I can't be injured while wearing it.
        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
        -Rudyard Kipling

        Comment


        • #5
          Because I was not wearing a helmet when I took a header, I fractured my skull in seven places, fractured my jaw, had all the cartilage ripped up the right side of my nose, blew out my eardrum and had blood and csf pouring out of my nose and ear. Twelve years later and I still have vertigo, cannot smell through my left nostril and have terrible tinnitus, plus some other problems. Even now I am having a daily struggle, since I started Jenny Craig three weeks ago and there is more sodium in the food than I usually have, and salt really effects my vertigo.

          Had I been wearing a helmet, I would still have been concussed, but the extent of the injuries would have been greatly reduced. This was told to me time and again by the doctors who treated me.

          Even wearing a helmet cannot always save someone. But I do not chance riding without one. However, I do view it as an individual decision (while quietly hoping that anyone who chooses to go sans helmet does not go through what I go through).

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by J Swan View Post
            I've noticed on this board that some people treat helmets as if they completely eliminate the possibility of head trauma. As I've seen for myself - if the accident is bad enough - or medical treatment delayed for some reason - the injury can be severe. Even fatal. Some injuries are crushing injuries. Some cause swelling that cannot be controlled. Some that might have been fatal result in permanent brain damage requiring 24/7 care.
            So what you meant to say was not that they do not reduce the chance, but that they do not eliminate the chance.

            I think the wording here is very important. They certainly reduce the chance, as they absorb a significant amount of energy. But, just as a car accident can be so severe that a seatbelt/airbag/child safety seat cant save the occupants, the same is true of helmets.

            My old helmet has a nice broad scrape on the side left by my horse's hoof. I don't really want to think what that would have done to my head.

            I believe any physician who has ever seen a head trauma case will tell you- wear your helmet, please.

            I had a boyfriend in college who had survived a traumatic brain injury. He was in a car accident, he was wearing his seatbelt- but he armed himself with knowledge and did speaking at local schools about TBI and how to do all you can to avoid what he went through. He was a rabid helmet advocate. And, sure enough, one day I found him on the road surrounded by ambulances- he'd been in a bike accident, and because he was wearing his helmet had only a concussion and bruising. He became even more of an advocate after that.

            He would tell the kids stories about having to learn how to talk and walk all over again, about living with seizures, about being in a coma. Some pretty powerful stuff.

            Comment


            • #7
              I too would like some more information regarding helmet safety. I do hope that Deltawave chimes in. My BF (we'll call him B) had a guy call him up looking for hay. The guy is a neighbor (of sorts) and lives about 5 miles away. Over the summer he was air lifted from his home after an accident. B found out he was kicked in the head while cleaning out his horse's hooves (or picking something up off the ground). Regardless, he's lucky to be alive - was kicked in the forehead. Had he had a helmet on while doing this ground would, he probably wouldn't be here because he would have likely been kicked in the face.

              So, this guy tells B that he'll never wear a helmet again. Even while riding, mind you this accident occurred while on the ground. B tells this guy he's gotta talk to me... because I'm always working around and behind my horses. I trust the one guy a lot (Gus) the younger one, not so much. They know I'm behind them, and whenever possible I always work off to the side. However, sometimes when you're doing things, such as braiding tails, you need to stand directly behind the horse, to get that nice symmetrical braid, right?

              Going on... B tells me he'll never, ever wear a helmet when riding horses. Cause well, it can cause more harm then good. There's always the risk of that happening... just like the freak accidents when wearing a seatbelt actually killed the person - and the coronor's report stated the person would have lived had they not been wearing a seatbelt. It happens, but it's more likely, IMO, that you'll survive better and with less injuries, if you're wearing a seatbelt or in this case, a helmet.

              I told B, cause he may be the one, that my kids will always wear helmets when riding horses. When they turn 18, it's their decision but I hope that they'll continue wearing them. He said "Nope. They won't wear a helmet." I'll even go as far, if it comes to that, to get information from different surgeons and ER doctors to back up my point. Who knows though?

              So, yeah, I'd love more information hearing why helmets aren't good. I'll never not wear mine. I love it. And hate it. But, if you have a good fitting helmet, it shouldn't be an issue. Plus, I'd rather not be brain dead and live to be old, then be living as a vegetable because of being just irresponsible and stupid. JMHO.

              So, please Deltawave, chime in. I need some ammo!!!
              Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
              See G2's blog
              Photos

              Comment


              • #8
                Professional editor and formerly in the consumer product safey area here chiming in on the wording. Yes, Ambrey, the wording is important, and yours is not quite precise either. Use of a helmet can reduce the severity of a head injury, not the chance of one occurring. As any ER nurse or doctor can tell you, even a minor, seemingly innocuous blow to the head causes some amount of injury (note the bump on the head I gave myself this very morning on a kitchen cabinet ... I have a headache from that little knock!). A properly designed helmet will dissipate the forces contacting the skull and, in most cases, lessen the resulting injury. It does not affect the chance of an injury-causing incident. Follow?

                And statistics such as you expressed interest in are available via FOIA from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as from ASTM and NIST. The AMA also tracks ER-treated injuries and has quite a lot of data. There is a developing trend to track cervical spine injuries as they relate to head injuries that I find quite interesting in terms of how it might affect helmet design for all helmet-wearing activities.
                Equinox Equine Massage

                In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                -Albert Camus

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ambrey View Post
                  So what you meant to say was not that they do not reduce the chance, but that they do not eliminate the chance.

                  I think the wording here is very important. They certainly reduce the chance, as they absorb a significant amount of energy. But, just as a car accident can be so severe that a seatbelt/airbag/child safety seat cant save the occupants, the same is true of helmets.

                  My old helmet has a nice broad scrape on the side left by my horse's hoof. I don't really want to think what that would have done to my head.

                  I believe any physician who has ever seen a head trauma case will tell you- wear your helmet, please.

                  I had a boyfriend in college who had survived a traumatic brain injury. He was in a car accident, he was wearing his seatbelt- but he armed himself with knowledge and did speaking at local schools about TBI and how to do all you can to avoid what he went through. He was a rabid helmet advocate. And, sure enough, one day I found him on the road surrounded by ambulances- he'd been in a bike accident, and because he was wearing his helmet had only a concussion and bruising. He became even more of an advocate after that.

                  He would tell the kids stories about having to learn how to talk and walk all over again, about living with seizures, about being in a coma. Some pretty powerful stuff.
                  That's very sad. The gentleman I wrote of, wearing a helmet, as far as I know - has still not be able to go back to work. Permanent brain damage, finances drained, family under stress..... no matter how you look at these accidents - they are all tragedies.

                  These days I think we all know enough about these helmets to be wearing one. But - I won't get after someone for not doing so. (adults).

                  When I read these threads on helmets - there are always folks who seem to imply that these things somehow prevent injuries. I don't think we should have that level of faith in any safety product. To illustrate - there are those that stopped wearing seat belts when airbags came into use. Thinking (wrongly) airbag deployment would prevent injury. Some people found out the hard way that safety equipment doesn't always protect us as much as we'd like. Especially if we fail to follow instructions.

                  (helmets with loose chin straps, improperly fitted helmets, airbags were designed to work with seatbelts; not as a replacement)


                  I've seen lots of riding accidents - and I've been on the receiving end of a few myself. I don't notice many folks using safety stirrups, safety vests, neck protection that bull riders wear, etc.

                  But whenever I ask folks why they don't use that equipment religiously...... I am met with silence.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wearing a helmet can be the difference between wiping your own butt and needing someone to do it for you. It won't absorb all of the impact, but any reduction in trauma is worth it in my mind. I would rather have a serious concussion than a disabling head injury. I would rather have a mild concussion than a serious one. Etc.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Being old enough to remember the thin hunt caps of the seventies, I can say that even that rather inadequate shell held on by an elastic strap was a good thing. I can still hear the metallic "think" noise of a horse's shod hoof hitting my helmet - hard - as I lay in the dirt once. So any helmet is better than none.

                      When I asked a racehorse trainer where the exercise riders bought their helmets, she told me that her daughter, a dressage rider, had been killed when her horse reared in an indoor arena and her unhelmeted head struck a pipe. I immediately wished I hadn't asked, but that is just another story I remember when I go to a dressage clinic and see so many people riding without them.

                      While in general I appreciate the inherent conservatism and tradition of horse culture, this is one area where a lot of people seem to have a blind spot. Even (or especially) top riders.

                      Have any comparisons been done of sport helmets across the board? Motorcycle, bicycle, skiing, etc.? A look at the adoption curve in other sports might be informative. A brief glance online showed some statistics on bicycles which says that 80% of white collar urban bike commuters wear them, while only 10% of rural kids who ride to school do. About 50% of bike fatalities are kids under 15. (source: http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm)
                      Publisher, http://www.endurance-101.com
                      Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by J Swan View Post
                        I don't notice many folks using safety stirrups, safety vests, neck protection that bull riders wear, etc.
                        Yet many don't wear helmets. Boggles my mind.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [quote=appychik;2807936]
                          So, yeah, I'd love more information hearing why helmets aren't good. /quote]

                          I'd love to know where you read that "helmets aren't good". I certainly never wrote that. Nor would I.
                          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                          -Rudyard Kipling

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by eqsiu View Post
                            Yet many don't wear helmets. Boggles my mind.

                            When I was a kid I don't even think they existed. I never saw them for sale until I was an adult - and I said to myself - hey - that's a good idea - and bought one.

                            But I ask - again - why few to none of folks that wear certified helmets, avail themselves of all the other safety equipment out there. Why continually harp on the helmet thing? You don't mind having helmet hair but you don't want the bulk of a safety vest under your jacket - makes a person look less feminine????? The fact it might stop a broken rib from puncturing your lung, or spleen or liver laceration not good enough?

                            I don't care about the answer - I'd just like to know why folks blather on about certified helmets - yet don't respond when asked about all the other stuff that's out there. I certainly don't see any photos of folks all trussed up to ride. (except when the rules of their sport require it)

                            So - for folks that are interested in the never ending helmet debate - why don't you wear or use other safety equipment?
                            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                            -Rudyard Kipling

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The only two bad accidents I have seen both riders were using helmets.
                              1. broke his neck and died at the scene no helmet could have saved him.
                              2. A guy got his face kicked in, the helmet did nothing.Needed major surgery.

                              I have fallen off plenty with helmet and without one. One of my assistents never used a helmet and never got seriously hurt. Walking down the stairs she slipped hit her back and is paralised.

                              I know it sounds hard but I honestly believe that when your time comes you are going to go one way or another.

                              Yes people get hurt without an helmet but people wearing one get hurt just the same. So if you want to be safe don't ride.
                              Every time you ride, your are either teaching or un-teaching your horse.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I will start this by saying that I do not always wear a helmet. I know that I should but I began riding enough years ago that helmets were really not much more than decorative, and it was very difficult for me to get used to riding with a helmet all the time. They were hot and uncomfortable. That being said - I always wear a helmet on young horses, green horses, hot horses, horses that I am trying/don't know, etc...

                                One example for you - when I tried my young horse last spring when I was purchasing him - I watched him go, and was confident that if he would do anything it would be to balk, not buck, rear, or bolt. Neither the owner of the horse or the barn owner (a trainer that I know, so she knows how I ride) asked that I put on a helmet, though I did since I won't ride a green broke 4 year old without one. Within 5 minutes I was on my back in the arena from the horse crow hopping and bucking basically from a standstill. I did not hit my head, but just by pure luck. After making sure I was alright, the one thing that the BO said that stuck with me was - "I'm so sorry that you came off, but thank you for reminding me to insist that anyone trying a horse on my property, even if I know them, needs to wear a helmet."

                                Moral of the story - wear a helmet. If you have any doubts, just read some stories about people attempting to recover from TBIs. Even mild ones take work and the people are often never 100% better. Give yourself every chance to lessen the chance for serious injury. The same reason that you wear a seatbelt in the car. Will this totally mitigate the possibility that you will get hurt in an accident? No. But will you have a better chance of surviving? Yes.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by J Swan View Post
                                  But I ask - again - why few to none of folks that wear certified helmets, avail themselves of all the other safety equipment out there. Why continually harp on the helmet thing? You don't mind having helmet hair but you don't want the bulk of a safety vest under your jacket - makes a person look less feminine????? The fact it might stop a broken rib from puncturing your lung, or spleen or liver laceration not good enough?
                                  Oh, that's easy. Because head injuries are more common, more debilitating, have more long-term consequences, and are more preventable than any other injury.

                                  Because being in a hospital for 5 days doesn't give me the nightmares that having brain damage for a lifetime gives me.

                                  Because my ribs are important, but my brain is who I am.

                                  Because safety vests don't have decades of data showing their effectiveness in preventing injuries.

                                  And because I don't own one yet, but I will

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by dutchmike View Post
                                    Yes people get hurt without an helmet but people wearing one get hurt just the same. So if you want to be safe don't ride.
                                    Wow, that's very black and white.

                                    I will tell you one thing about the helmet "debate" that I do not understand. I don't understand how there can be any debate that it is safer to ride with a helmet.

                                    If you choose not to wear one, that's fine. But educate yourself and look at the facts before you choose, rather than ignore them.

                                    This is quoted from an article on Medscape. Link at

                                    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/432438_4

                                    In all published clinical series, including the present report, head injury is the most common cause of serious injury and death.[18-20] In one British study, 50% of hospital admissions after a horse-related injury were due to brain injury.[21] In our 75 patients, 5 died of a head injury, and another 28 survived after a significant head injury. A substantial body of epidemiologic evidence supports the use of approved helmets as a means of preventing brain injury during contact with horses.[22,23]

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by J Swan View Post

                                      So - for folks that are interested in the never ending helmet debate - why don't you wear or use other safety equipment?
                                      Wasn't meaning to harp, I just wonder why you wouldn't complete the package. I must say though, I only use a safety vest if I'm not in a ring. Mainly because I'm lazy. But I have safety stirrups.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by J Swan View Post
                                        When I read these threads on helmets - there are always folks who seem to imply that these things somehow prevent injuries.
                                        Of course they prevent some injuries, you are trying to make it black and white.

                                        Some things that would have been minor injuries unhelmeted are prevented. Some things that would have been major injuries unhelmeted become minor injuries. Of course some things that would have been major injuries without a helmet are still a major injury.

                                        I don't really think there are many people who have magical faith that a helmet will stop any harm coming to them. There might be some, but others are probably just sloppy writers.

                                        Comment

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