Friday, April 16, 2010

"The School of Hard Knocks" & the Helmet Lesson

I know I've said this before, but what more will it take to convince our governments that helmets are dangerous, and that they ought to heed the compelling evidence that proves it?

In their enlightening story, the School of Hard Knocks, last night's ABC Catalyst programme raised an interesting parallel to the perils of helmets when Dr Anne McKee, a brain pathologist with over 20 years experience, raised the issue that the first ex-footballer she saw had never even been knocked out but had only had only sustained minor concussions.

"...perversely, his football helmet, designed to prevent head injury, had allowed another kind of head impact to become part of normal play" - the 'subconcussive hit' which is cumulative and devastating.

What was equally interesting in last night's story was the narrator's voice over when she expressed that 'we don't have the helmet factor here in Australia' as though it was a widely known fact that helmets are dangerous. But I am still required to wear a helmet by law on a bicycle here in Australia notwithstanding medical knowledge that helmets accentuate head injuries!!!

Upon the facts, the case continues to build against mandatory helmet laws. It is apparent to many that they are a dangerous device. Therefore I ought to be able to decide for myself whether I wear one or not, just as I do when I consider the activities of smoking, drinking and over-eating.

Cycling is not as dangerous as rugby or 'aussie rules' and perhaps that's why MHLs were able to come into effect. Maybe the powers that be always knew that the bicyle helmet issue would never really be tested because (a) injuries are unlikely, and (b) when they occur they are often catastrophic and can immediately be blamed upon something else like the unfortunate B-Double!

In the States they held a Congressional Enquiry - when are we going to do that? or better still, just hold a few pens to repeal the legislation!

I am no longer a guinea-pig - the experiment has been concluded and the results are not positive for helmet wearers! In fact it's a 'Diffuse-Axonal-Injury' bomb waiting to explode!


  1. Just a quick response to this. I have been knocked from my bike by a motorist who chose to overtake me going downhill on a blind curve. I hit the road at 60kph, the back of my helmet took the blow to my skull, I am a convert to wearing bike helmets...

  2. Hi Craig,

    Thanks for your post, and it's absolutely your right to choose to helmet or not...

    ...but the evidence that the back of your helmet took the blow to your skull is proof of nothing, given that your helmet is made of light foam with probably a thin covering of plastic. It's next to impossible to say how much it took the blow to your skull!

    As I am sure you are aware, many cyclists land on their un-helmeted heads and suffer no consequences - in fact some experts would argue that the size of your helmet may have contributed to your helmet connecting with the ground. Tests for helmets expose weaknesses in both current standards and testing procedures. Helmets aren't actually designed for high speed accidents such as the one you encountered.

    I am really happy that you weren't injured, but your helmet testimonial still does not justify mandatory helmet laws.