My head hit the pavement last week. Biking to work, I turned in the gravel on the side of the road and the bike went out from under me in an instant while I went flying to the sidewalk landing literally on my head; or more precisely on my helmet. I am black and blue this week but not even a headache from my collision with the concrete.
As a family doctor, I have heard all the arguments but still can’t fathom why anyone would not wear a helmet when riding a bike or roller blading. Since my fall, I have been very aware of the number of cyclists I see in Calgary who do not wear a helmet; young, old, male, female. Few on roller blades wear appropriate protective gear. The paths I ride on are busy. The pavement is not always even. There are geese, dogs, children and squirrels. There is gravel.
Working in the office and in emergency over the years I have seen many injuries from cycling and roller blading mishaps. We all think it won’t happen to us but we would be wrong. The greatest risk is in not protecting our brain – the simple two second act of donning a helmet can be lifesaving. Many argue this is a matter of personal choice; the risk is theirs and the consequences are theirs.
As a family physician who has cared for brain injured patients I can tell you it is not just the patient that suffers – it is also the family and loved ones, coworkers and employers, friends and more. It is all of us that pays – for the prolonged care, the multiple visits, the lost access for others, the tests, and treatments, services and specialist care. We have limited healthcare resources – we cannot afford to pay for care that is preventable. Save your brain – wear a helmet. Let’s be vocal and make a difference. We can’t afford not to!
Dr. Cathy MacLean,
Head, Family Medicine Department
University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine