The People Powered Movement (PPM) found that in 2015, there were 45,000 reported bicycle accidents in the US. The most common causes of the reported accidents were driver or biker inattention, failure to yield, and dangerous road conditions.
Are helmets worth wearing? Bike injuries can lead to permanent trauma and lifelong impairments. But sporting proper safety gear, like a bike helmet, can protect your most important asset: your brain.
Will a Helmet Prevent Bicycle Injuries?
Why is it so important to wear a helmet? Bicycle helmets prevent life-threatening injuries. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 54% of bikers without helmets suffer head injuries that require emergency room care.
While helmets cannot always prevent neck or face injuries, they can reduce the severity of a bicycle injury. By adding a protective layer around the head, helmets prevent and minimize brain damage.
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Brain Areas and Associated Functions
The brain controls everything in the human body. Therefore, head injuries and brain damage lead to lifelong issues and can alter a person’s behavior and abilities. The brain is divided into six different areas.
The brainstem refers to the lowest part of the brain. It connects the brain to the rest of the body, making it a vulnerable region. Medical News Today reports there are nearly two million brainstem injuries a year.
The brainstem controls blood pressure, body temperature, sweating, and digestion. Brain stem damage can lead to various physical problems, including:
- Loss of balance
- The ability to sleep
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty swallowing
The cerebellum coordinates movement, balance, equilibrium, and reflexes. Those who have damage to their cerebellum may exhibit slow and uncoordinated movements. A damaged cerebellum can cause:
- Asynergia (loss of motor movement coordination)
- Dysmetria (inability to judge distance)
- Adiadochokinesia (inability to perform rapid alternating movements, like flexion and extension)
- Ataxic gait (staggered walking)
- Hypotonia (weak muscles)
- Ataxic dysarthria (slurred speech)
- Nystagmus (abnormal eye movements)
The Frontal Lobe
The frontal lobe is where the majority of our thinking occurs. It controls how we perceive our environment, emotions, and language. The frontal lobe also enables high-order functions, like understanding complex concepts and solving problems. Frontal lobe damage can lead to:
- Aphasia (speech difficulties)
- Paresis (partial loss of movement) or paralysis (complete loss of motion)
- Difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus
- Mood swings and personality changes
The Parietal Lobes
The parietal lobes have two functional regions. The first function controls touch perception and our ability to manipulate objects. The second function affects spatial coordination. Damage to the left parietal lobe leads to Gerstmann’s Syndrome, which causes the inability to:
- Write (dysgraphia)
- Comprehend mathematics (acalculia)
- Identify one’s fingers (finger agnosia)
- Distinguish between the left and right side of the body
Damage to the right parietal lobe can trigger contralateral neglect, which causes a person to ignore parts of their body. For example, people with right parietal lobe damage may neglect self-care, like brushing their teeth or showering.
The Occipital Lobes
The occipital lobes are concerned with one function: vision. Damage to these lobes can lead to:
- Loss of vision
- Blurred vision
- Inability to recognize written words
- Poor information processing
- Color blindness
The Temporal Lobes
The temporal lobes, which are the brain’s second-largest lobes, sit behind the ears. They control hearing, memory, emotion, and verbal information processing. Damage to this area can have a serious impact on the victims of injuries.
Light damage can cause a decrease in hearing or memory, while significant damage can induce long-term memory problems and leave someone unable to express emotion. Temporal lobe damage can also lead to aggressive behaviors, problems retaining new information, and Prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces).
How Does a Helmet Protect the Brain?
The combination of a hard shell and soft foam padding is what makes a helmet worthwhile. When a person hits their head, the materials disseminate the force of the impact to cushion the blow and minimize head trauma.
Simply put: the helmet takes on the brunt of the impact, so your neck, head, and brain don’t have to.
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Stay Safe, Wear a Helmet
Are helmets worthwhile? Wearing a helmet is not a choice; it’s a necessity. While a bicycle crash may be inevitable, The National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that wearing a helmet reduces:
- Head injuries by 48%
- Severe head injuries by 60%
- Traumatic brain injuries by 53%
- Face injuries by 23%
- Critically injured or fatal bicycle accidents by 34%
Helmet benefits range from preventing broken facial bones to reducing the risk of permanent brain damage. In the majority of accidents, a brain injury does not only affect one area. Several parts of the brain can be damaged, leading to a variety of long-term problems.
Don’t open yourself up to brain damage from a bicycle injury. A helmet is an inexpensive and easy-to-wear piece of equipment that provides a tremendous amount of protection. No one is too young or too old to wear a helmet.
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The Brain Injury Legal Team You Can Trust
Brain and spinal cord injuries are traumatic, especially when the damage was the fault of someone else. If you or someone you love is suffering from brain or spinal cord trauma, contact Dansker & Aspromonte LLP Associates for a free case evaluation now.
Our personal injury lawyers in New York can provide you with guidance and resources that can help you move forward after a brain injury. Let us help you move forward from your accident.