Cumberland Times-News - Cumberland,MD


Dr. Robert 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 face.

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 laws""

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 alcohol laws.
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.