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Seth Leonard column: Hard heads no substitute for helmets

You’re only young once, and that’s probably a good thing. Most people don’t possess the sheer dumb luck to survive the consequences of all the bad decisions we make while growing up twice.
At least that’s what I was thinking about while lying in the Rowan Regional Medical Center’s emergency room Friday evening.
Earlier in the week, while exploring the bottoms around Second Creek, I took a tumble from an ATV and suffered what turned out to be a mild concussion. It probably should have been much worse.
The ironic thing was that on the same day I was laid up in the CT scanner, my colleague Drew Sechler had published a story regarding ATV safety, including the merits of wearing helmets.
Riding slowly with my friend Cass Gilbert, it seemed highly unlikely that either of us would need one.
We’re grown men, after all. Invincible, or close to it.
But when we came to a v-cut in our path, things got tricky. I should have hopped off and re-mounted after Cass had cleared the ditch, but instead I tried to hang on. As soon as he touched the throttle to climb out of the cut, I was bucked straight off through the air. After falling several feet, my body was saved from any harm by my neck and head, which collectively broke my fall.
Ideally a helmet would have been there to complete the chain, but hatting up hadn’t crossed our minds once all day.
Fortunately, I landed on a grassy patch and didn’t seem to have been hurt. But by Friday, I felt fuzzy-headed and slept away the entire day. Concerned that I might have severe brain trauma, I went to the emergency room to get checked out. I’d hardly slept during the week because I’d heard that when you have a concussion and fall asleep, your brain shuts down and you slip into death.
Maybe I should have checked Web MD, because that’s far from the truth. The night physician explained that it’s fine to sleep, just make sure you have someone to wake you up after a few hours.
If anything, my fear of sleeping had aggravated the post-concussion syndrome I was diagnosed with. Some sack time would have let my brain rest and recover from the shock it had endured much faster.
We all know that helmets are critical. Whether riding bikes, motorcycles or ATVs, you should always protect yourself properly. For young men, the problem seems to be aesthetic. Looking cool doesn’t mean flaunting the rules. Helmets have come a long way, and if you pick the right one, you can get both safety and style.
Women are guilty, too, but likely for different reasons. If you ride other’s vehicles often, it might be worth investing in a helmet of your own to ensure a proper fit. Especially considering the fact that women are more prone to concussion syndrome. Effects can linger longer and be more severe, so there’s no need to risk it. Take it from me: Helmets are recommended for a reason. The difference between life and death is slim, so gear up properly before riding and avoid having your own close call.

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