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Old 03-18-09, 08:23 PM   #1
Dahon.Steve
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Natasha Richardson - Helmets

An actress Natasha Richardson passed away today after a sking accident where she hit her head yet managed to walk away. There's now discussion on whether a helmet could have saved her life. Here's what Time Magazine said.

>>>>>The fact that Richardson was not wearing a helmet may or may not have made a difference in the gravity of her injury. If skiers are moving slowly say 10 m.p.h. or slower and they fall on soft snow, they're probably not going to be hurt severely, whether they're wearing a helmet or not. If they're moving faster than 15 or 20 m.p.h. and strike ice, hard-packed snow or another solid object with the head, they're likely to suffer severe injury, and again the presence of a helmet may not make much difference. It's in the middle area at speeds that are neither very slow nor very fast that a helmet can play the biggest role. The trick, of course, is that you never know when you're going to be in that gray zone, since even slow beginner skiers can lose control and speed up, and high-speed skiers have to slow down eventually.<<<<<

I find this interesting because it means that a helmet does work well in low and medium speed accidents below 15 or 20 m.p.h. Regardless, I wasn't wearing my helmet all winter long but after this accident, it's back on again.

http://www.time.com/time/health/arti...l?iid=tsmodule

>>>>Association of Quebec Emergency Room Doctors made the request earlier this year, claiming that 60 per cent of head traumas could have been avoided by wearing a helmet while performing winter sports. Helmets are already mandatory for any skiers and snowboarders that use snow parks or take part in downhill races in the province.<<<
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Old 03-18-09, 08:47 PM   #2
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I found it interesting that they mentioned helmets at all. My observation that only kids wear helmets while skiing. And this accident happened on the beginner's slope, which probably means it was dead flat.

Now, having lived in Utah, and witnessing idiot skiers first-hand, it's possible that she was pulling a "Sonny Bono" and skiing out of control through the bunny hill. But that seems unlikely.

I have had bad days skiing and smacked my head very hard. Fortunately it never ended up in any sort of injury beyond a stiff neck.
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Old 03-18-09, 08:48 PM   #3
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I'm sure people are making the same posts in driving, shower, jogging, swimming, diving, and home handyman forums everywhere. "Ya know, Ned, you never know when you might fall off that ladder or bump your head on that closet shelf"

She was a pretty and talented lady...darn shame.
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Old 03-18-09, 09:10 PM   #4
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And this accident happened on the beginner's slope, which probably means it was dead flat.

Now, having lived in Utah, and witnessing idiot skiers first-hand, it's possible that she was pulling a "Sonny Bono" and skiing out of control through the bunny hill. But that seems unlikely.
She apparently fell during a beginner's lesson and showed no signs of injury. A darn shame. A beautiful, talented mother and wife. Rest in peace, Ms. Richardson.

CNN News story:

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According to a statement from Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Richardson fell during a lesson on a beginners' trail.

"She did not show any visible sign of injury, but the ski patrol followed strict procedures and brought her back to the bottom of the slope and insisted she should see a doctor," the statement said.

Richardson, accompanied by her instructor, returned to her hotel, but about an hour after the fall was "not feeling good," the statement said. An ambulance was called, and Richardson was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal. From there she was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
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Old 03-18-09, 10:22 PM   #5
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Yes, a shame. I was just reading another discussion on the topic. I can't make anyone else wear a helmet, but I know I'll keep wearing mine.
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Old 03-19-09, 05:31 AM   #6
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I think there are variables at work here that we, and, perhaps, medical experts will never know. I keep thinking that she must have taken a fairly good whack to the head, or the instructors would not have insisted upon following protocol that obviously ended the lesson and sent her back down the slope to receive medical treatment that she, apparently, declined.

If the blow to her head were as insignificant as reports make it sound, then, perhaps there were conditions present that predisposed her to serious injury in such situations.

The point is that we will never really know. This is one of those freakish, unexplainable and tragic situations the exact causes of which may never be known as medicine, in many ways, is still an unknown science.

In my mind, I keep trying to process this event, and I keep getting these "does not compute" messages. She was relatively young, in good physical condition, and, yet, this seemingly minor blow deals her injuries from which she was unable to recover.

My mind also keeps questioning why, her injuries notwithstanding, her life could not have been saved. Once the symptoms appeared, was deterioration so rapid and irreversible that there was nothing that could be done to reverse the damage, or was medical science, in its current state, just too slow to address her problems in order that her life might have been spared?

Approximately five years ago, the newly rebuilt rear wheel of my bike pancaked in a turn, locking up its rotation and sending a clueless rider head over heels into the ditch as I lost control.

In addition to the minuscule fracture of a bone in my arm, I needed seven stitches to close a wound in my scalp. In those days, I proudly eschewed helmet use, and, with even more vanity, told the hospital staff exactly where they could stuff their offers of cat scans of my skull. Did I appear to be confused, out of it, whatever? Then, no, I would not agree to a scan of my skull.

Fortunately, for me, my insticts proved to be correct. But, this most recent accident, this tragedy, underscores for me the capriciousness with which I brushed off offers of expert medical assistance, ascribing the professional entreaties to boilerplate protocol designed to increase the bottom line of the medical facility.

One cannot comprehend the seriosness of these sort of injuries. Had I been more unlucky, my stubbornness might have resulted in my death.

I have been very proud of the way I handled that accident, but am now revisiting all the assumptions/conclusions that have resulted from the experience.

This fine lady probably had a more lucid realization of what happened to her than I in my experience. She knew she was on skis, and she knew she took a fall. I only knew that I was riding my bike at one moment, and, at another, experienced an unexplainable lack of control.

In my case, some bystander, assuming that any cyclist chooses to cycle by virtue of being legally prohibited from more "normal" means of locmotion, called the police and emergency ambulance to the scene. I remember being slightly disoriented as to my location and direction of travel, but also being somewhat insulted by the implied assumptions of emergency/law enforcement personnel that I must certainly have had too much to drink prior to the mishap.

I had not been drinking, the mishap was mechanical, but, that part never found its way into the report (an allegation that I might have been drinking, fortunately, also never found its way into the report).

I am rambling a bit, but, would like to emphasize that this most recent event leaves me re-thinking my attitude about head injuries, my experience, and how I hope I might react if some future mishap occurs in my life.

As for the helmet issue, I see very little in the scant info included in reports of this incident that indicate that a helmet would have made a difference. Are we to assume that a blow to the head that leaves no outward signs can be sufficiently cushioned by a helmet as to avoid internal injuries that escape immediate detection? I am reluctant to make or accept such a conclusion.

I am so sorry for the victims family. They were obviously engaged in the sort of wholesome family activity around which the American dream is woven. My prayers and thoughts continue to be directed towards them.

Caruso

Last edited by Carusoswi; 03-19-09 at 05:38 AM.
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Old 03-19-09, 06:27 AM   #7
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If they're moving faster than 15 or 20 m.p.h. and strike ice, hard-packed snow or another solid object with the head, they're likely to suffer severe injury, and again the presence of a helmet may not make much difference.
I've been skiing for the last 35 years of my life, mostly faster than the aforementioned 20mph, lost count how often i fell.
Most severe injury up to now: almost froze off my earlobes once. Also once suffered strained ligaments at the knee and several on the thumbs.

I grew up and live about 60km from the nearest skiing resort. All my family goes skiing, as did all members of my schoolclass and now most of my friends and colleagues. I personally know of *no one* who ever hit his/her head while skiing.

With skiing, the same kind of media hype can be observed as with bike helmets. A mass sport that for decades no one felt any particular danger in suddendly is branded as high risk stuff, for people with a deathwish only, unless, of course, performed with the newest hi-tech cover-all full-protection gear. Yeah, sure. Its buy-or-die! Fork out 100$ or be a goner!

I wonder whats next. Walking helmet?
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Old 03-19-09, 06:54 AM   #8
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A wise and insightful comment by Carusowi.
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Old 03-19-09, 07:14 AM   #9
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Forward speed matters if the impact is into a tree or fixed object but has very little to do with impact velocity on the ground. If you fall off you bike going 5 mph and hit your head the impact is the same as falling off going 30 mph.
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Old 03-19-09, 07:19 AM   #10
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Forward speed matters if the impact is into a tree or fixed object but has very little to do with impact velocity on the ground. If you fall off you bike going 5 mph and hit your head the impact is the same as falling off going 30 mph.
Wrong.
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Old 03-19-09, 07:26 AM   #11
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Forward speed matters if the impact is into a tree or fixed object but has very little to do with impact velocity on the ground. If you fall off you bike going 5 mph and hit your head the impact is the same as falling off going 30 mph.
You're kidding, right?
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Old 03-19-09, 07:45 AM   #12
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If the blow to her head were as insignificant as reports make it sound, then, perhaps there were conditions present that predisposed her to serious injury in such situations.
That's the point I was trying to make.

The reports on the blow to her head sounded insignificant. Unless there was some sort of cover-up, she was traveling at a slow speed when the accident happened. Yet, it killed her. The one hour she spent alive was the only time anything could have been done to save her. The low speed and highspeed head injuries can be just as fatal.

The resort where the accident happened is now going to require all skiers to wear helmets. Lawsuits? You bet! I don't think it's a bad idea overall.
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Old 03-19-09, 07:56 AM   #13
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Forward speed matters if the impact is into a tree or fixed object but has very little to do with impact velocity on the ground. If you fall off you bike going 5 mph and hit your head the impact is the same as falling off going 30 mph.
Welcome, Freds!

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Old 03-19-09, 08:08 AM   #14
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You're kidding, right?
Missed that day in physics class did you?
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Old 03-19-09, 08:17 AM   #15
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Missed that day in physics class did you?
So you learned this on Bake Sale day?

Apply a little trig to your ivory tower theory and you'll see the light, weedsmoker.
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Old 03-19-09, 08:27 AM   #16
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I'm curious whether or not she had a history of previous head injury...

Very sad. Very freaky.
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Old 03-19-09, 08:43 AM   #17
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Missed that day in physics class did you?
I assume you are referring to the vectors being independent. Doesn't friction with the ground matter?
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Old 03-19-09, 08:50 AM   #18
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidural_hematoma

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In the hallmark of epidural hematoma, patients may regain consciousness during what is called a lucid interval, only to descend suddenly and rapidly into unconsciousness later. The lucid interval, which depends on the extent of the injury, is a key to diagnosing epidural hemorrhage. If the patient is not treated with prompt surgical intervention, death is likely to follow.[10]
Guys, don't take head injuries lightly, even if you are able to walk away from it.
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Old 03-19-09, 09:07 AM   #19
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There's also something called a "second impact syndrome", which occurs when an already concussed brain is impacted a second time. Apparently the second blow does not have to be that hard. The swelling is very quick and often fatal.
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Old 03-19-09, 09:23 AM   #20
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidural_hematoma



Guys, don't take head injuries lightly, even if you are able to walk away from it.
even when there appears to be no external damage. Some people may feel they are all right because, after a collision while wearing a helmet, there is no injury on the exterior of the head. It's not uncommon for the problem to be inside the skull and therefore, not visible.
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Old 03-19-09, 10:10 AM   #21
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Looking forward to reading the autopsy report.

Once again, very sad and shocking event...
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Old 03-19-09, 10:29 AM   #22
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I've never been snow skiing, but I figured if I'm moving faster than a walking pace on something that can be slick as ice, I would want to wear a helmet.

When my wife relayed this news story, that was my first comment, "people don't wear helmets when skiing?" Shows what I know!

Why not wear a helmet? Don't they have the added benefit of keeping your head warm? Again, I've never been in that environment, so I have no idea.
Hm, "why not wear a helmet"... true, but why only when skiing? or cycling? because doing these tings is actually not very risky. Check the statistics, people been doing it for decades. You shoulds ask "why wear a helmet" instead, or face me asking you why don't you wear one when driving your car? walking stairs? taking a shower? People died doing that, from fatal head injuries. Ah, because no clebrity recently died doing that? because no one sells and advertises shower helmets?

For keeping the head warm, there is the fine invention of woolen caps, or, if the conditions are nice, it isnt needed to keep them warm... let your hair feel the wind.

The kind of fall that Natasha Richardson took, from all i read, could as well have happened by just walking and slipping on an icy spot or wet leaves, or by slipping in the bathtub. It has just been a very sad and tragic accident. It doesnt mean that you are under lethal danger whenever moving outside of your normal habitat (at least not extraordinarily so - life is dangerous and will end with your death). Is this some new kind of angst?

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Old 03-19-09, 10:30 AM   #23
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I assume you are referring to the vectors being independent. Doesn't friction with the ground matter?
I agree with you, friction does matter. But not for force of impact. As far as ripping your scalp off, and probably more importantly, head rotation after the ground bites into you scalp, the speed of the fall definitely matters.
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Old 03-19-09, 10:36 AM   #24
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even when there appears to be no external damage. Some people may feel they are all right because, after a collision while wearing a helmet, there is no injury on the exterior of the head. It's not uncommon for the problem to be inside the skull and therefore, not visible.
When my kid took a tumble and had a big huge bruise on his forehead I was told that it was actually good that the injury looked really bad from the outside. Makes perfect sense.

Although I actually did take him to the ER because he was 2 years old.
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Old 03-19-09, 10:44 AM   #25
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I agree with you, friction does matter. But not for force of impact. As far as ripping your scalp off, and probably more importantly, head rotation after the ground bites into you scalp, the speed of the fall definitely matters.
Indeed, if one is moving forward, the head will most likely impact at some angle <> 90 degrees on a surface that is most likely not flat and level, in which case their forward velocity is a factor in the force of the impact. It don't take a physics major to figure that out.
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