Damean Cendo, Cumberland
My recent letter to the editor (June 22: QB's injuries may
have been worse with helmet) seems to have upset, even
horrified some people! I certainly did not mean to upset the
fine people flying Trooper 5, or horrify my friend and
colleague Dr. May! However the facts in the letter were
accurate. An open-face helmet will not protect the face from
injury! I think this is common sense and the statement
stands on its own.
I worked in Cleveland several years with Dr. Hank Bolman,
the man who wrote the book on cervical trauma, and he always
said that anything which makes the head bigger, heavier, and
more rigid (like a helmet), will cause more cervical stress
and can cause more cervical trauma. I have a friend, who
also worked at Memorial ER years ago. He unfortunately fell
off his bicycle years ago and injured his neck (and yes, he
was wearing a helmet). After many surgeries he is now
wheelchair confined in a nursing home. I don't think anyone
can dispute the fact that helmets do not protect the
cervical spine (even the Australians, but they ride on the
wrong side of the road). Helmets are very good at protecting
the brain, and only full-faced helmets will also protect the
Finally, the letter commented on the concept of crush zones
or energy absorption. Your face does actually give some
protection to your brain. If helmets could be made to absorb
energy, such as crumble zones, then they would offer some
protection to cervical spine injuries! And remember, Mr.
Roethlisberger could have been riding his bike naked and he
would be fine if a 62-year-old lady hadn't illegally pulled
out in front of him.
Wearing a helmet while riding will protect you from closed
head injury, but does it really save lives? The issues of
accident avoidance, cervical injury, facial protection, and
other injuries are not so easily dismissed, as my critics
would have you believe.
These topics deserve some frank and
open discussions, but it seems that helmet use proponents
are so dogmatic in their orthodoxy, that it's almost with
religious fervor that they refuse to discuss it. This type
of helmet McCarthyism is unwarranted. Anyone who questions
the prevailing orthodoxy is attacked ad homenun, and the
discussion is called the "usual rhetoric spewed by
uninformed motorcyclists who are pushing to repeal helmet
These people are
blinded by their zeal to control your life. Even now, they
are plotting to force you to sign an organ donor card, even
if it conflicts with your religious beliefs.
They will not stop until they control everything you do.
Once they receive a title, they become drunk with power.
Even though they claim to be open-minded, these supercilious
critics will ignore decades of research on cervical trauma,
and go half-way around the world to try to find some dubious
studies that conform to their preconceived conclusions.
The state of
Wisconsin has studied motorcycle mortality extensively since
they repealed their helmet law, and they do not find that
helmets save lives.
Most deaths occur from chest
trauma or neck injury. So body armor would actually be more
likely to save lives than helmets. In fact, Wisconsin
motorcycle death rates have dropped since helmet laws were
repealed, however this drop may also be due to heightened
So if you think
that hopping on a bike with a helmet will make you safe or
save your life, you are fooling yourself. It is often said
that adhering to the conventional view serves to protect us
from the painful job of thinking. Motorcycles are dangerous,
and the only way to be safe, is to keep your bike in the
garage. But if you choose to ride, wearing a helmet should
also be a personal choice.