Lynne Drakos: Support for kids wearing helmets
September 15, 2010
Ironically, or not so much, I am wondering whether my son will even make it onto the mountain this winter. Six months ago he sustained a moderate-level traumatic brain injury while snowboarding in the terrain park at Breckenridge Ski Area. He is seemingly recovering well, however based on his recent MRI, his injury is stable but there has been no apparent change after six months of restricted activity. Not the news we wanted, but we are still waiting to speak further to our team of two neurologists, one neuropsychologist, and one radiologist at Children’s Hospital in Denver. My 12 year-old son was wearing a helmet that day, as he was two-and-a-half years ago when he sustained a prior head injury while skateboarding. I am certain that, had he not been wearing his helmet at the time of both injuries, his injuries would have much more devastating. He was knocked unconscious even with his helmet on during both injuries. For the most part, I know I am one of the lucky parents … I still have my child to hug every day, he can participate in other sports, and his memory has returned. But the extensive medical bills, multiple trips to Children’s Hospital, additional home schooling costs, my time away from work, etc. continue to add up overwhelmingly. In addition, my son has not been able to step on a skateboard for the past six months, and the fate of his snowboarding fun this winter is still unknown at this time. He is extremely passionate about his sports and his dream in life is to become a pro-snowboarder and skateboarder. The worry and unknown he and I have both endured for six months will continue indefinitely.
When you step into my house, the first thing you see is a cubby area that has helmets for every sport: biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc. If your child is not wearing a helmet at the right moment, it will not save them from a potentially devastating injury. Even if they have one on and are not pushing their limits, accidents from these more extreme sports can certainly occur. If you watched my son on the mountain or in the skateboard park, you would not see him as a reckless young man whatsoever. He is consistently in control and graceful … but there is an inherent risk in his sports. Why not do what we can to make these sports as safe as possible by requiring helmet use in our young friends?
I would encourage Colorado to put mandates on helmet-wearing for snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, and biking for children 17 and younger. From the article, I understand that in California there may be a $25 dollar fine for parents if their children are not wearing a helmet. Some may argue that consequence, but I can tell you that tens of thousands of dollars later into my son’s injury, $25 dollars is no match for the financial and emotional implications that follow one’s child sustaining a head injury. Not to mention the potential implications on the rest of that child’s life. Simply put a helmet on those kids’ heads, and if it needs to be mandatory … so be it.