It’s a beautiful day in Vancouver and you’re cycling around the seawall. Without warning, a cyclist riding in front of you abruptly stops resulting in you taking a nasty spill. Will your bike helmet prevent a concussion?
Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt, clinical director with Advanced Concussion Clinic in Vancouver, said “When you’re an unprotected cyclist, whether or not you’re wearing a helmet, if the force associated with these injuries is strong enough there’s little you can do,” she said.
Here’s what happens when your head hits the pavement after a fall
Your skull absorbs the energy from the impact and your brain’s built-in shock absorbers soften the blow. If you hit the cement particularly hard, your brain’s built-in mechanisms won’t work which may result in a concussion. A bike helmet is designed to spread the energy of an impact. The hard outer shell protects your skull like a shield and the inner layers crack extending the hit over a longer period of time.
Here’s the problem with bike helmets
A bike helmet won’t always prevent a concussion because the inner layers of the bike helmet don’t absorb much energy unless the impact is forceful enough. A lighter hit won’t deform the inner layers of the helmet leaving your brain unprotected – in other words – like you aren’t wearing a helmet at all.
Today’s helmets are not designed to protect against the rotational acceleration that can cause a concussion. With so many more cyclists on the road, this explains the spike in concussions in the past few decades.
Vancouver is launching a bike-sharing service this summer that claims to be the largest cycling system in North America. Let’s keep our city’s cyclists safe by sharing safe cycling tips as well as wearing bike helmets.