Sunday, September 02, 2007

Inline skating? Wear a helmet.

These days, most people wear helmets when bicycling. That's not true of inline skating, but in the thirteen years I've done both with comparable frequency I've had greater need of a helmet on skates than on my bike. (I used to do vastly more bicycling, the current balance is driven by my kids.)

Among experienced inline skaters in Minnesota, I think that about 80% wear a helmet. The frequency of helmet use among novices is much lower -- but they don't move too fast. The real problem is semi-skilled skaters, only about 20% of them wear helmets. They can move quickly.

I suspect Dr. Weinstock was in the 20% of strong skaters who don't wear helmets ...
Popular doctor dies from skating injury: A fall on rollerblades-
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A well-respected opthalmologist died Friday after sustaining injuries in a rollerblading accident in Hopewell Township. Dr. Floyd Weinstock, 53, apparently fell while in- line skating Thursday afternoon, suffering a severe head injury, police said...
Life is a terminal condition. Inline skating, bicycling with cars, working on a farm, downhill skiing, walking in some cities at night -- all dangerous activities. Yes, but, even so, there's much to be said for evening the odds.

I don't like wearing my helmet when I skate. I understand why Dr. Weinstock didn't want to wear one, but a helmet does even the odds -- and it makes it less likely your wife will pursue you to the gates of Hell if you do die. Helmets don't make you invulnerable, but they can convert a fatal head injury into a severe concussion, and a severe concussion into a mild concussion.

The worst injury I've had skating was a mild concussion (no loss of consciousness) due to a trivial trip and fall at at walking speed; if you catch a skate so it becomes a pivot point you can get quite a bit of angular velocity six feet from the axis (ie. at the head). I was wearing a helmet of course, and it did what it could do. I like to replace them often now, to keep the foam fresh.

Even the odds. Wear a helmet. Remember Dr. Weinstock. Had I been caught out on a similar mistake, I like to think I could at least become a cautionary tale. I suspect he'd have felt the sam way.

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