Do You Really Need to Wear that Motorcycle Helmet?
If you are a motorcycle rider, you may think that your superior riding skills will keep you upright and on the road, but the occasional crash or accident is inevitable. While many motorcycle accidents may only leave you with minor scrapes and a bruised ego, major incidents can leave behind broken bones, head injuries, and other painful issues. This makes it extremely important for cyclists to take proper safety precautions when riding.
While broken bones can take weeks to heal, a head injury as the result of a motorcycle crash can lead to a lifetime of impairments. Your brain is the control center of your entire brain, and damage to this area can make it difficult to function in everyday life. A motorcycle accident in which your head is unprotected could result in memory impairments, vision or hearing loss, and a lack of coordination. Your ability to regulate your breathing and heart rate can also be impacted. Since the damage sustained by head injuries is often irreversible, it is important to protect yourself with a helmet each time that you ride.
Why is It So Important to Protect the Brain?
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It is common knowledge that injuring the brain can cause a wealth of health problems, but do you know exactly what the effects might be? Brain damage can lead to a life of difficulties, and to fully grasp just what you might have to deal with if you fail to wear a motorcycle helmet, it is important to identify the main brain areas and their functions. The brain is often divided into six separate areas:
- Brain Stem: This is the lowest portion of the brain, and it connects the brain to the rest of the body at the neck. This area of the brain is quite vulnerable, and damage can lead to a variety of physical problems, such as loss of coordination, difficulty swallowing, breathing issues, and an irregular heartbeat. It can also prevent your body from regulating some important functions properly, such as body temperature, digestion, and blood pressure.
- Frontal Lobe: This portion of the brain is responsible for most of our thinking. It will control our language, emotions, comprehension, and how we perceive the environment around us. A frontal lobe injury can be especially devastating and difficult to overcome.
- Cerebellum: This portion of the brain coordinates balance, equilibrium, and movement. Therefore, if you fail to wear a helmet and injure your cerebellum while riding a motorcycle, even simple actions like walking can become a major challenge.
- Occipital Lobes: Unlike the other portions of the brain that have a variety of functions, the occipital lobes are only concerned with vision. By damaging this portion of your brain, you could suffer from blurred vision or even blindness.
- Temporal Lobes: These lobes of the brain are responsible for memory, hearing, and processing verbal information. Minimal damage may result in hearing loss or problems with memory, but major damage could leave you with marked difficulties in remembering even simple things.
- Parietal Lobe: This portion of the brain is responsible for many of our senses, including the ability to manipulate items and to experience touch perception. If this lobe is damaged, the way your senses work together could be impeded.
With the brain completing so many important functions that help us live healthy and normal lives, it is clear to see why protective gear like helmets are so important when riding a motorcycle.
- Brain Anatomy – Reviewing the structure and function of different parts of the brain.
- Cerebellum Structure and Function – Understanding how the cerebellum of your brain works.
- Cognitive Skills and the Brain – Exploring the various portions of the brain and how they affect cognition.
- Movement, Learning, and the Brain – How the brain affects your ability to learn and to move.
Preventing Brain Injuries with Motorcycle Helmets
The statistics regarding riding, head injuries, and TBIs are startling, especially when you realize that many of these injuries could have been either prevented or minimized if the rider had been wearing a helmet. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 91% of all motorcyclists that had been killed in an accident that year were not wearing helmets. Unfortunately, the statistics of this year were not a fluke, as the percentage of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents that were not wearing helmets has never fallen below 80%, with the exception of only a couple years.
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The statistics also provide other important bits of information. They show that the most at-risk demographic to be riding without a helmet are males over the age of 16, and these accidents are most likely to occur in urban areas like NYC motorcycle accidents. Additionally, if you guessed that alcohol was a contributing factor in many of these accidents, think again. Of the 601 cyclists killed, only 166 had blood alcohol content levels that were above the legal driving limit; the majority were completely sober.
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While it is difficult to say for certain whether any of these motorcyclists would have survived their accidents had they been wearing a motorcycle helmet, non-fatal crashes provides us with a more definitive answer. Helmets are known to greatly reduce brain damage in motorcycle crashes and collisions. According to the Motorcycle Helmet Safety Institute, head injuries account for more than 60% of all motorcycle-related injuries, and up to 88% of those injuries could have been prevented had the rider only been wearing a helmet.
- Motorcycle-Related Injuries – The CDC examines motorcycle injury risk factors and how they can be prevented.
- Motorcycle Helmet Buyer’s Guide – How to choose a proper motorcycle helmet.
- Helmets Save Lives – Evidence supporting the importance of motorcycle helmets.
- Preventing Brain Injury with a Motorcycle Helmet – Motorcycle helmets can save lives and prevent TBIs.
- Statistics and Safety Tips for Biking – Information about bicycling, staying safe, and injury statistics.
- Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury – Tips for adults with TBIs to live more independently.
- Brain Injury Impact on Individual Functioning – How a brain injury can impact your ability to live normally.
- Head Injuries and Bike Safety – The CDC provides information about bicycling and head injuries.
- Levels and Types of Brain Injuries – Information about the various types of brain injuries.
- Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury – A glimpse at what life is like when living with a TBI.
While it may be impossible to prevent motorcycle accidents entirely, you can greatly reduce your risk of injury by wearing proper protective gear. When it comes to protecting your brain, a motorcycle helmet is essential. Even a minor accident can lead to major brain damage, resulting in a variety of physical and mental impairments.
Don’t take an unnecessary risk. Motorcycle helmets are fairly inexpensive, and they are simple to use, but many people still ride their motorcycles without wearing one. This is especially true of adults, who need to practice safe riding habits in order to serve as good role models for their kids. Don’t put yourself at risk of suffering brain damage due to a motorcycle injury, and always wear a helmet when you ride.