Ep. 038 – Wear Your Helmet!

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 038 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

In Episode 038, Dr. Trayford talks about the absolute best thing that you can do to protect your brain health: wear a helmet. He shares some very alarming statistics that will convert you, if you aren’t converted already, to always wearing a helmet and ensuring that your children do the same. A must-listen! Join us!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

Well I’m going to put you on the spot right off the bat here, so I hope you’re up for it.

Jason: Okay, I’m ready!

Do you ride a bicycle?

Jason: Yes I do

Do you wear your helmet?

Jason: Every single time.


Jason: Also with my kids. You can ask my wife, I’m pretty insane about this.
Well I’ll tell ya, the next question I was going to ask you was about the kids. A lot of folks if they do think about it, they put it on their head. If they don’t they put it on their kids heads. So todays tip is simply wear your helmet.

This could be the single most important tip in the entire 365 day series. I work with a lot of folks that have a brain injury from what we would call, although I believe there’s no such thing as mild traumatic brain injury. We’re seeing everything from mild traumatic brain injury, concussion all the way up to people that have had severe strokes and open head injuries where they’ve even lost parts of their brain because of trauma. Or surgical procedures as well, but wearing your helmet is the one thing we can do actively, preventatively to decrease the risk of significant injury. Really with any type of wheeled sports, whether it’s motorcycle, bicycle, scooters, rollerblades. I rollerblade quite a bit and I don’t ever go out with out a helmet on my head because when you fall and your legs get out from underneath you one of the first things to hit, if you don’t land on your elbows, will be your head. Because the momentum, the inertia will carry you and sort of flip you onto your noggin.

So wearing a helmet is so critically important. Just to give you an idea statistically. I love statistics and statistics related to head injury and bicycles is all over the place. Every organization under the sun is looking at this stuff from insurance institutes, department or transportation, the helmet industry itself.

So I’ve compiled some of this from helmets.org it’s a really good clearing house of statistics. But they’ll talk about the insurance industry, highway and safety division and I thought this was pretty interesting. Based on a whole slew of statistics. They painted a clear picture of who is getting hurt on bicycles due to not wearing helmets.

Basically the composite of bicycle fatality statistics is this. The picture of typical bicyclist killed on our roads, would be a sober male over the age of 16, not wearing a helmet, riding on a major road, between intersections, in an urban area on a summer evening, when hit by a car.

So this paints a pretty clear picture as to the majority of folks that are getting hurt.

Jason: Wow, I’m selling my bike right now.

The good thing is. You know I thought it was interesting that they include sober male, because you would think that there would be challenges with people driving under the influence. The cool part of this is that the bad statistics are going down relative to children, but they’re going up, relative to older men.

It’s a guy thing I guess. Although when I go to the parks I see equally men and women not wearing their helmets in equally their children not wearing helmets. So the bottom line is that we have to put something on our head.

There were statistics out of New York City, now if you want to collect a bunch of statistics in a short period of time, you go to a big urban area where there are a lot of accidents. In New York City in 2013, they talked about fatal crashes due to cars and bicycles. 74% of those fatal crashes involved a head injury. Of that 74-percent, 97-percent of them were not wearing a helmet.

So this is irrefutable, undeniable evidence, that if you want to stay alive during a bicycle crash without significant head injury, then you need to wear a helmet. There was only 3% of them that didn’t have a problem.

So this is pretty significant when you look at the numbers. And the numbers paint a very clear picture, that helmets save lives, and more importantly, they preserve health due to compromised brain function. Now that’s not to say if you’re wearing a helmet you won’t have some kind of brain injury. That happens all the time, but you are increasing your odds significantly of not having that injury.

So we need to do it. It has nothing to do honestly. We were looking to do helmet programs that would distribute helmets to underprivileged folk who simply couldn’t afford helmets. But the price point on helmets these days makes that almost a non-issue anymore. You can get a good, solid, approved helmet for $15-$20.

These need to be on your kids. If not there are programs around that can help you afford these types of helmets. And you can call our office and give us some of that information.

The bottom line is that it has not as much to do with income levels and even education levels these days.

A quick story, before we depart. I was with a friend of mine who was a physician and we were at the park one day and we were with my daughter and his son. And his son was riding a scooter and he didn’t have a helmet on. And I won’t say the name on air, but I nudged him a little bit an asked “What’s the deal? You know better. Why is your son not wearing a helmet?”

He said “Oh, it’s just because he’s riding a scooter!”
Well I said “Explain that to me?” Because I didn’t understand that.

His way of thinking was that he’s closer to the ground, so he’s not going to get hurt as much if he falls from the scooter as if he fell from a bicycle.

Well I’m here to tell you the scooters often times, can be more dangerous than bicycles, because the kids can jack-knife them pretty quick when they turn those handle bars 90-degrees they flip directly onto their head.

So this is a pretty dangerous situation, so there’s really no. Anything outside of a car, other than walking, people should have helmets on their head. And I think even in a car these days, helmets might be a nice addition, but that’s a talk for another day.

Helmets, helmets on the heads. You can see that I’m passionate about this. It drives me crazy when I go to the park. You see all these helmet ordinances and people aren’t wearing them. I used to have discussion with people at the park not wearing them. Try to promote some kind of advocacy.

The bottom line was that too many people were simply getting angry with me. Because people don’t want to feel that they’re doing wrong by themselves or their children.

So there are more tactful ways that we’re looking at. We’re trying to do that through helmet distribution programs that we had thought about previously and we’re trying to reenact. And we’ll talk about that more as those programs become available.

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