Remember the Simpsons episode where Bart buys a gadgety tool belt (“tactical pants retraining system”), that had turn signals on it? No? It aired in 1996, so if you don’t remember, that’s OK. You can watch it here. (you only need to watch like 3 minutes to see the belt) It’s my favorite episode because it has the belt, and also brain injury awareness (ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s a start).
I have had recurrent thoughts about that belt, mainly when I am out on the lakefront path and not only cyclists clip by too close for comfort, but runners frequently and very abruptly change their speed (often stopping completely), turn, flail, and otherwise nearly knock each other over. I have commented to friends before that if people get anymore distracted (yes, I largely blame iPods for this erratic behavior) while they run/walk/bike, I am going to start wearing a helmet ALL THE TIME. Or, my alternative solution is that a utility belt equipped with turn signals and break lights ala’ Bart Simpson should be required gear for anyone using the Lakefront path, including people walking their dogs and especially people pushing baby strollers (jogging or otherwise). Or, bicycle cops could start handing out tickets for runners, walkers, and cyclists who do not perform a shoulder check before swerving, stopping, or turning. I do it, it ain’t hard, I promise.
And that is my segue into sharing this study (which you’ve likely heard of if you’re as NPR-dependent as I am), that research with woodpeckers may lead to more effective helmets! Here is a more non-sciencey-reader-friendly article.
I suffered a concussion in 2008 when I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle home from work (ironically, I was working as an EMT at the time, and refused for the ambulance to take me to hospital). I was wearing a good helmet, and hit the ground at a preferable angle. Still, I experienced pretty severe short-term memory, balance, and mood issues for about month after that. I suspect that wasn’t my first concussion after having an active, accident prone childhood.
I work with, and daily meet, several individuals who would be absolutely like you and me if it weren’t for a twist of fate and a brain injury, all it takes is a hard fall on your bottom, a fall from a bike, a tree, a missed cheerleading catch, or maybe a fall getting out of the shower, from a high chair, or maybe, no fall at all, but ingestion of cleaning products or a self-injurious behavior, to change the course of a persons development, and life.
For more information on brain injury here are some links:
Always wear a helmet on your bicycle, rollerblades, motorcycle, scooter, unicycle, horse, great dane…and so on! Even if you’re only going to the mail box!