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Anecdotal evidence and extreme hyperbole (Re: Helmets)(12 posts)

Anecdotal evidence and extreme hyperbole (Re: Helmets)Ahimsa
Mar 3, 2003 5:47 PM
I put this in a new topic as I think this debate is important, especially to any younger readers we may have here. Perhaps Gregg could keep this and the thread from below up top for awhile.

Quote from http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/hfaq.html#A1

"The "helmet-saved-my-life" stories are mostly hyperbole. A plausible explanation for them is that a helmet is a fragile piece of styrofoam which is larger than the head it is on. A helmet on the head of a cyclist who falls from a bicycle on to a hard surface is almost certain to come into contact with the surface and be damaged. It's all too easy then to assume a serious head injury would have been incurred without the helmet. Physicians are often the source of these stories, but they have no particular competence in the mechanics of a bicycle accident. When a helmet gets trashed it may well have prevented a nasty bump or even saved a few stitches, but the odds it saved a life are about the same as winning the jackpot in a lottery."

Well, I am here to say that when I went endo thanks to a groundhog in my path, my forehead hit the pavement as though I had been levered by my feet. I liken it to putting an orange in a sock and swinging it onto the street. Splat!

Now, while this is obviuosly anecdotal, and there were no scientists there to make observations or statisticians there to quote me the facts on head injury, I can tell you most assuredly that I would have had more than a nasty cut or bump.

The entire front of the helmet that covered my forehead was toast. The force with which I went down slammed my chest into the asphalt so hard that it took the wind out of me. My neck hurt afterwards due to the whip-like momentum, and I remember all too well the feeling of the helmet smacking the ground mere millimeters from my nose and the accompanying sickening crunch. It stopped the movement of my head so jarringly that I went a bit black. If not for the helmet there is absolutely no way I would have escaped serious injury.

Massive facial reconstrucion comes to mind as a likely outcome. Either that or a round of "pick chunks of skull out of the frontal lobes" with my friendly surgeon.

Now, we can debate this all we want, but truth be told, what is the greatest evidence for helmet efficacy?

Statistics that can be proven any way you'd like?

Or direct "been there, done that" evidence of folks who know for certain that because of a helmet they escaped a life of drooling on themselves in wheelchair at the rehab clinic?

I know which one I'm going with.

You do whatever you feel is right. I won't criticize.

Cheers!

A.

PS. Plenty of stats here, make your own decisions: http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm
Good work AhimsadeHonc
Mar 3, 2003 5:58 PM
Ahimsa,

Well done - this is a topic that deserves attention - I too have been involved in several instances when a helmet has saved a massive amount of pain and suffering - stuff "violations of individual freedoms etc" -what poppycock rubbish - wearing helmets should be legislated for - period.

Regards,

Dan
Hyperbole?filtersweep
Mar 3, 2003 6:09 PM
I've worked with enough TBI (traumatic brain injury)individuals professionally (in the mental health field) that I simply wear a helmet. When I first entered the field, it even prompted me to sell my motorcycle. I'm not much of an alarmist, and I don't care what others do- statistically the risk of TBI from cycling is indeed very low. I personally feel like hedging my bets by wearing a helmet.

Forget the stats... I'll use common sense ;)

Still, I don't know how much a helmet helps with a head-on collision with a car, etc... but at that point, a cyclist would be vulnerable wearing body armor.

Sure: seatbelts and airbags can cause injuries. Sure, growing up in the 70s we didn't have over-engineered kid seats in cars, bike helmets, or even seatbelt laws... and you could smoke practically everywhere!
re: Anecdotal evidence and extreme hyperbole (Re: Helmets)OTG
Mar 3, 2003 6:22 PM
Key word in that sentence there being "mostly".

-Owen

thanks for the link, btw.
re: if I dig out that statcyclopathic
Mar 3, 2003 6:32 PM
Am bicycling League (?) had stat data showing that while overall number of bicycle related injuries stayed the same or went up, number of head injuries went down.
Your arguments about helmet effectiveness are plain silly...tz
Mar 3, 2003 7:16 PM
AT LEAST SOME of the crashes will result in contact between rider's head and some hard surface. I hope you will agree with this statement. NOT WANTING some cushioning when you head hits asphalt, whether it saves your life or not, makes no sense. Please, don't tell me you'd be better off without a helmet in that crash!
AT LEAST FEW of head injuries will result in death - maybe one or two in thousands, but there WILL BE fatalities. Helmets reduce your chance of a head injury, light or serious, and therefore, reduce risk of you being killed. This is simple logic, which does not even require statistical evidence.
To wear a helmet, or not to is your decision. I ALWAYS wear mine. I don't care if you ride without one, but please, don't tell me that helmets are ineffective. Number of lives saved may not be the same as the number of "helmet saved me" stories, but there are riders out there who owe their lives to their helmets...
uh, who you talkin to? Ahimsa is on your side nmcollinsc
Mar 3, 2003 7:42 PM
Similar accident to yours, Ahimsa...VertAddict
Mar 3, 2003 11:14 PM
Mine was due to nailing the V-brakes way too hard at speed on the pavement, bike and I went over like the front tire was a pivot and I smashed the top of my head into the pavement. I endoed so hard I felt like a tent peg getting hammered into the pavement.

Broke the helmet, still had a splitting headache for a week, and don't like to think too hard about what my condition would have been without it. I can't imagine how it could have been any less than hospitalization.

Um, yeah, I wear a helmet when I ride. And even my 7 year old son will tell you that people who don't aren't too smart.
My anecdotedzrider
Mar 4, 2003 5:59 AM
I hadn't realized that the rain started and I went down on wet railroad tracks. There was no time to think "hold your head up" or "close your fists". The sound of my helmet hitting the pavement was like a high caliber rifle shot.

At the time I wore a helmet only to placate my sweatheart who bought it for me. I was a "Helmet Laws Suck" motorcycle rider in the 70's and survived crashes on motorcycles and bicyles without wearing a sweat bucket. I believed that I fall well and that in crashes time slows down enough for me to react and save myself. This minor crash gave me no time to react. I was down before I knew I was falling and the sound of the helmet hitting the ground has me wearing one ever since.
Been there, too.look271
Mar 4, 2003 7:10 AM
While I won't go into details, suffice it to say that had it not been for my helmet, my head would have hit a car windsheild rather than my helmet. Who knows what would have been the outcome.If you choose to ride without one, so be it. I'll still wear mine, thank you very much.
Y yo tambienterry b
Mar 4, 2003 7:56 AM
Took a corner way too fast and lost it in some unanticipated sand. Went down sideways, leading with the left side of my head. Scuffed the plastic covering right off the styrofoam shell.

It was not so bad that I would have been killed, or even seriously injured, but at a minimum I would have sanded off a large patch of skin from my left eyebrow up and over the top of my head. Certainly not a pleasant road rash experience.

Frankly, I don't care if others wear them or not, and I agree that many of the stories about being saved are overstatements. But since it costs very little to have one on and even if it prevents a minor injury like mine (would have been,) why not?
re: Anecdotal evidence and extreme hyperbole (Re: Helmets)carbs
Mar 5, 2003 12:21 PM
Unseen stick in the bottom of a drainage on a paved road put me over the handlebars. I had just stood up to accelerate. I hit square on my helmet and broke it. I had a headache for a few days and my neck was jammed. I was VERY glad I had a helmet on. I was less than a block from home.