My friend Bei shared a very interesting article the other day from Kyle Wagner over at Gizmodo, basically saying that helmets are very good at preventing skull injuries – as in: when you bash your head against the concrete, or into another grid iron player, or my fist (yeah right), or whatever else you use your helmet for, it’s much less likely to mean your skull will split open and cause massive brain trauma and injury. A very good thing. This is why many places have made it illegal not to wear a helmet while biking, or why grid iron football players have worn helmets for a long time (P.S. I can’t believe I am comfortable saying “grid iron football” instead of just “football”. Next thing you know I’ll be telling people to “get it in ya” and that it’s the middle of the “arvo”. I digress).
What Wagner’s article pointed out, however, is that helmets cannot necessarily prevent concussion. By definition, a concussion involves the brain smashing against the inside of the skull. If you hit something with enough force, that cushy fluid surrounding your brain will not be able to stop the inertia that involves your brain plastering the inside of your thick skull, and that is another kind of bad brain trauma. Basically, your brain gets bruised.
So, yes, helmets cannot prevent everything bad happening, and we should be aware of that. Perhaps there are other measures we can take in high risk sports. For example, boxers and martial artists often wear mouth guards, not only for protecting their teeth, but there appears to be a theory that they may absorb the shock of a hit and reduce the risk of concussion, although it should be noted that the evidence for this is very limited and not entirely conclusive. Until further research is conducted, it is still a “myth” in the world of neuroscience.
Now, what I want to highlight in this article is the general standard of logic and intelligence in the average internet user that comments on most Internet articles. I have found that commenters on this blog have been of a particularly high standard, and I am thankful for that. However, I suspect that the more popular a blog becomes, the more chance you have of encountering complete idiocy. I direct you to the comment of “Jayhawk Jake”: “I think the best solution is to stop wearing helmets.”. Yes, yes, that is the best and most logical conclusion. If something fixes one thing but not everything, it’s best we get rid of it. Another commenter more reasonably pointed out that perhaps something like leather helmets, which may absorb more of the shock, may be better to return to. But I just can’t get over the over-reaction in the original comment. Honestly, people, if you cannot treat scientific results in a sane way, perhaps you shouldn’t be allowed them. Joking. Sort of.