Skateboarding is a personal choice, an expression of freedom, art through skilled and choreographed movements. Wearing protective gear is perceived to restrict the skateboarder’s freedom and impede the natural flow of movement, so despite city ordinances or any governing laws, most skateboarders choose not wear any protective gear. While we concede that elbow and knee pads as well as wrist guards may protect from injuries the body can heal from, it is the wearing of helmets that is our biggest concern.
In a simple split second a life can be changed forever from head trauma and it is the use of helmets that protect against this type of injury when worn correctly. Falling from just 2 feet can cause a traumatic brain injury and in 2009 over 23,000 traumatic brain injuries were reported due to skateboarding or riding scooters. It is estimated that 85% of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.
Unfortunately we have had first hand experience of friends riding a skateboard, falling and experiencing head trauma because no helmet was worn. One of them has lost his peripheral vision in one eye for life, another was in a medically induced coma for several months and has cognitive as well as short term memory issues he has to deal with for the rest of his life. The latest was in the hospital for a couple of days and released with a severe concussion which on the surface may seem inconsequential but may have more severe long term consequences. Only time will tell. The best thing about all of these outcomes is that each one is still alive; that is not always the case with traumatic brain injury.
Statistics, threats and the possibility of negative consequences haven’t change the ingrained, cultural behavior of not wearing a helmet, so after consulting with Healthy Lompoc Coalition, we are starting our own effort- Stay Sane & Save Your Brain. We will be visiting the skate park on random days at random times and anyone wearing a helmet correctly will receive either a $10 SC Gift Certificate or some other reward as acknowledgement for protecting their brain. If you are in need of a helmet and can’t afford one, let us know and we can get you one. We would also ask everyone, regardless of age and skateboarding ability to wear a helmet while surfing the concrete, no matter where you are. If not for yourself, please consider your friends and family and the consequences they may pay for your choices.