Thursday, July 15, 2010

ProHelmet promotes helmet safety in high-risk sports

Hi all,

This week's tip focuses on helmet safety. I am working together with a group of five dynamic women to launch a new group called ProHelmet. Our mission is to promote helmet safety for people who engage in high-risk sports such as bicycling, roller blading, horseback riding, skate boarding and skiing/snowboarding.

Our message is that we've only got one brain. That's all we've got for our whole life. One brain. Take care of it.

ProHelmet will be at the Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium on Saturday, giving away our logo stickers to everyone who takes the pledge to wear a helmet. Watch for us at the Team Exergy tent and watch for our banner: "You only get one brain. Always wear a helmet."

No one ever plans on having an accident when enjoying a favorite sport. It just happens in the blink of an eye. And suddenly, if you're not wearing a helmet, you could be knocked unconscious, suffer severe head injuries, or worse. Look at what happened to Poor Jimmy.

I must admit that I was a bit of a problem child :) I rode my bike everywhere, and I rode fast. A bit reckless, too. Occasionally, I hit a pot hole or a mailbox or a station wagon (all true!), and I suffered concussions in two of those instances. One time I was totally knocked out after flying over my handlebars from hitting a pot hole, and the next thing I knew, I was lying in bed with my family gathered around, wondering if I would wake up.

But they didn't have any helmets for kids in those days, so I just tried to be more careful.

Everything went smooth until I started mountain biking in the mid-80's. I rode with a ball cap on because, again, there were only those really goofy and ugly Bell helmets available in those days, and I didn't think I needed it. Then I rode down Bob's Trail, flipped over my handlebars and landed directly on the top of my head. It really hurt, and it knocked some sense into me. Plus, helmet technology and manufacturing was rapidly improving because of the skyrocketing growth of mountain biking. So I've used a bike helmet ever since.

ProHelmet was started by Dr. Jill Beck, a pediatric ear, nose and throat surgeon in Boise, Olympic gold-medalist Kristin Armstrong, Debora Kristensen, an attorney with Givens Pursley, Lynn Johnston, a community activist, and Susie Pouliot, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association. All of them are active women who engage in multiple sports and understand the need for stronger education about helmet safety.

Dr. Beck can tell you stories about seeing patients who fell off their bicycle in a parking lot and lost their hearing because of a head injury. If they had a helmet on, it would have been a scratch. Wouldn't those people like to turn back the clock?

Kristin is so passionate about the issue that she is making time for the ProHelmet cause in between having a portion of Bogus Basin named after her today, being inducted in the Idaho Hall of Fame tonight and signing autographs and leading a kids lap at the Twilight Criterium on Saturday.

Dave Beck, founder of the Idaho Velodrome and Cycle Park and cycling coach for the Boise Byrds, has been a vital supporter from the beginning. I am the group's part-time executive director.

It's an important cause. Each year, bike-related crashes kill approximately 800 people and injure 567,000 others in the United States. Although more people than ever are using bike helmets, only half of the more than 80 million bike riders wear them all the time; approximately 43 percent never use helmets. Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent. Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

ProHelmet is working on public education to start with. We gave away more than 200 helmets to a group of foster kids in SW Idaho in May. We co-sponsored an event with St. Luke's Children's Hospital called "Wear Your Helmet to Work Day." There are many other educational opportunities ahead.

For now, if you support the cause, go to and take the pledge to wear a helmet. Or take the pledge Saturday night, and we'll give you a sticker.

Idaho has one of the lowest rates of helmet use in the nation. Let's see if we can turn that situation around and save our collective brain power for a lifetime of productive activity.

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