Helmets: They’re not just fashionable…

By: Dr. Laura Wenger, PT, OCS

We live in a world where there are a lot of different opinions and, luckily, we have the right to have our own opinions and are not silenced for doing so (thank you first amendment)! Even though opinions may spark debate and controversy, they also give us the opportunity to learn more about our fellow humans around us. One of the things that I love about working as a physical therapist is that we get to interact with so many different types of people, and I find that I always have something to learn from each patient I encounter.

If you happen to be in our main gym area during a busy time of day, it’s not rare to hear multiple conversations going on at once or, sometimes, one conversation happening amongst the entire group. One topic that interests me greatly, which seems to come naturally for a PT, is that of public health and safety. Within public safety, a topic that has come up often times during these “gym” conversations is that of wearing a bicycle helmet if you’re going to be hitting the road or trails on your bike! This is something that I have a strong opinion about and, lucky for me, the research does reinforce my position on the serious importance of wearing a helmet.

John, our lead tech, and Josh, our PT student, showing off their helmet style for their rides home on the river trail

I recently looked at a systematic review and meta-analysis (basically, a research study that looks at multiple studies to gather information) published in 2017 highlighting the importance of wearing your helmet.(1) After reviewing 43 studies looking at over 64,000 injured cyclists, the researchers found that the simple act of wearing a helmet was associated with reduced odds of head injury, facial injury, and especially serious or fatal head injury.(1) The fact that this analysis was able to look at so many people increases the significance of these findings. What it comes down to is that it is a no-brainer (pun intended!) to wear a helmet anytime you get on your bike. Even if you are a pro cyclist (hey, we are in Durango!), you can never predict when that strange thing will happen that can cause you to fall while riding your bike- the squirrel running right in front of you, the car backing out of the driveway, or the rock that sends your tire in the wrong direction to name a few scenarios. So, the next time you are going to venture out on two wheels- even for a quick ride down the street- don’t forget to strap on your helmet for one of the easiest things you can do to prevent injury!

OK, I’ll dismount my soapbox now…

1. Olivier J, Creighton P. Bicycle injuries and helmet use: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol. 2017;46(1):278-292.