We all have a choice when we mount up--to wear a helmet or not. The choice is up to the individual. Below is a handy quiz to help you decide if you should wear a helmet when you ride:
Answer the following questions as either TRUE or FALSE as they apply to you:
Now, tally up your responses: for every time you answered “true,” give yourself 1 point. For every time you answered “false,” give yourself 5 points.
Questions 1-3 – If you answered true to these questions, congratulations on your achievements! These three things will undoubtedly help you stay topside and therefore reduce the risk of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from a fall. Unless #7 is False—that significantly reduces the amount of safety your level of skill/experience provides you.
Questions 4-10 – yes, I’m being a smart-ass, but these are the things we don’t think about. If I had a nickel for every time someone implied they were somehow exempt from brain injury because they were (place ridiculous claim here), or how it’s their body, their choice (which is true, it is)—I’d have a barrel full of nickels to donate to the Brain Trauma Foundation. The fact remains, horses are unpredictable, people make mistakes, freak accidents happen, and gravity is a constant feature of planet earth.
Questions 11-15 – This is really the point of this little exercise—to raise awareness that your decision to wear (or not wear) a helmet is not only about you. Unless your answer to questions 12-14 is “true,” then…well, no still not just about you, because someone will have to take care of you.
Post TBI injury care can include (but is not limited to): teaching sufferer how to walk, feed self, wipe bottom, speak, move arms, move legs, grasp objects, write, and read—hopefully you will be able to relearn all those tasks. Otherwise you may need someone to clean and maintain your respirator, change your diaper, bathe you, feed you (or clean your feeding tube), turn you so you don’t get bed sores, etc.
A recent study discovered that the annual cost of treating/managing a person with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) ranges from $25,000-$81,000 every year for the life of the patient.
The daunting cost of treating/managing the TBI patient is compounded by the fact the sufferer of the TBI is often unable to return to work at the same level or in some cases, at all. The study further found divorce was not uncommon with TBI sufferers in the years following their injury, citing extreme emotional and financial stress as the reason for divorce or separation.
If you have no family, no friends, and no money, and/or not enough insurance, then your lifetime care will fall on the taxpayers and the welfare system.
You might now be thinking, “Well, why do anything risky? Why drive, why fly, why do extreme sports, why keep riding?” My goal is not to scare you out of everything fun. Have adventures, drive on the interstate, ride that crazy mare that hates everyone, jump the big jumps, climb the mountain, go to an Elephant rally wearing a Donkey shirt—do those crazy, fun, dangerous things if the thought moves you, but take the safety precautions available to you—buckle your seat belt, wear the helmet, learn how to tie good mountain climbing knots, and leave the Donkey shirt at home—or avoid the Elephant rally—whichever. It just makes good sense.
Oh yeah, scoring the quiz:
If you scored anywhere from 0-75 points: you should definitely wear your helmet.
76 points or more: check your math, and definitely wear your helmet. Every ride, every time.
Cheryl L. Eriksen, MSW, Equine Enthusiast, EAGALA groupie and writer of interesting, educational and entertaining blog posts!