We all know that high-impact sports can lead to head injuries with significant consequences, including hearing loss. But not many of us are aware of the dangers of other sports considered safe and kid-friendly. One of these is cycling and oddly one of the reasons it isn't as safe as it could be is because of the nature of its protective headwear.
Helmets are more likely to cause the head to twist on impact, which can cause a concussion. Concussions can lead to decreased brain function and hearing loss. That's not to suggest at all that cyclists shouldn't wear helmets. On the contrary, we should all be advocating for better head protection from the industry.
"We should continue supporting more research into the design of better helmets in terms of more protection against concussion and other brain injuries," Dr. Charles Tator, a brain injury expert at Toronto Western Hospital, told the Globe & Mail in an article about helmets and head injuries.
Tator did say helmets have an impact on hearing. Because they cover the ears, they limit the wearer's ability to hear, which can be a danger.
"It is true that helmets reduce the ability to hear sounds, especially in the range of the human voice. This is a definite shortcoming with helmets such as ski helmets when you might not hear someone overtaking you from behind. However, skiers should be aware of this shortcoming, and it does not count very much in terms of the helmet's value in preventing death," says Tator, who advocates for helmet use and is hopeful for improved headwear protection.
Along with hearing loss, concussions also can cause dizziness, vertigo and depression. Better helmets would minimize the risks of all head injuries.
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