Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Helmet Matters

(Courtney King update as of March 10 from Lendon Gray is: "Another day with 'no bad news is good news.' Courtney had an MRI and it shows no damage beyond what they already knew from the cat scan the day after the injury. We all breathed a little sigh of relief at this news.")

Ever since I got my friend's call and good advice to wear my helmet, I've been doing some pretty deep thinking concerning helmet use and our sport in general, along with some further research.

The CDC says that an estimated 30 million Americans ride horses each year, and that 92,763 ER visits were made in the US for injuries related to horseback riding. The greatest number of injuries occurred in the 25-44 year age group; injury rates were highest for 5-24 year olds, especially for females.

The CDC sums it up thusly: No horse is a safe horse; some are safer than others but the horse is a potentially lethal animal. Prevention of accidents and injuries is dependent upon using knowledge previously attained from studying horse activities. Because of the potential of severe of head injury, horseback riders should wear a properly secured hard shell helmet lined with expanded polystyrene or similar material. Helmet use has been endorsed by several medical and trade organizations, and national performance standards for helmets are available. To reduce injuries, riders should wear properly fitting heeled boots and nonskid gloves, avoid loose fitting clothing, regularly maintain and inspect equipment, replace worn parts, and use appropriately sized stirrups. Safety practices of riders may improve when they are trained by experienced instructors who emphasize safe riding techniques, and who themselves wear helmets while riding. In addition, riding safety may improve for riders who use appropriate techniques to stop, start, and turn a horse and to perform a rapid (emergency) dismount.
The One Rein Stop and Ceil's Emergency Dismount come to mind!

How often should helmets be replaced?
You should replace your helmet anytime you’re in an accident, whether the impact is severe or minor. Even if you don’t see any damage, the inside material of the helmet where impact occurred could have been compromised. In addition, experts recommend replacing your helmet every five years or sooner. Time takes its toll on the material properties of a helmet mainly because of small dings and bumps as well as the effects of temperature variations that occur over time, expanding and compressing the materials over and over again. Another reason to regularly exchange your helmet is the ongoing improvement in helmet technology, which sometimes is not obvious to the public. So although there is a range of issues that might make an earlier replacement necessary, 5 years is the maximum time Troxel recommends waiting before replacing a helmet. See the Troxel site for more safety info.