Helmet could make all the difference to head injuries

Helmet could make all the difference to head injuries

Neal Denton, who credits his helmet for saving him from a head injury

Andrew Wotherspoon

First published in Headlines
Last updated
Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

ANDREW WOTHERSPOON believes it was a cycle helmet he got from the Oxford Mail that saved him. Now he’s hoping hundreds of other cyclists will follow his lead.

The 72-year-old is still recovering at the John Radcliffe Hospital after suffering multiple injuries from a crash with a car at the Cassington junction on the A40 on October 2.

He said doctors told him the helmet probably saved his life.

Today the Oxford Mail has teamed up with Witney firm Oxford Products to give readers another chance to buy one of 500 helmets for just £5, a saving of nearly £10, in a bid to cut the number of serious head injuries in accidents.

Mr Wotherspoon, of Milmoor Crescent, Eynsham, bought his helmet under a similar promotion in 2007, along with one for his wife, Ann, their son and two grandchildren.

He said: “I would encourage people to take up this offer to stay safe like me – it probably saved my life and it could save many more lives. It is amazing that the Oxford Mail is doing this again.”

Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill said: “There are still far too many accidents involving cyclists in Oxfordshire.

“Wearing a cycle helmet is the most basic precaution anyone should take. It might just save your life, so we’re pleased to make our own small contribution.

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“I would urge any cyclist who does not have a helmet to take full advantage of our offer.”

Neal Denton, chairman of brain injury charity Headway Oxfordshire, says wearing a cycle helmet saved him from a head injury during an accident three weeks ago.

The father-of-two said he was brushed by a car and then hit a pothole and drain cover, catipulating him into a ditch on the side of the A415 into Abingdon.

Mr Denton, 51, from Abingdon, said: “I came off my bike coming into Abingdon about 25mph.

“I did land on my head and I smashed my helmet and broke my collarbone.

“The A&E consultant said I would have had severe concussion if not a head injury if I hadn’t worn a helmet.

He added: “It is absolutely important – helmets and visibility.”

Since 2009 there have been more than 1,300 collisions involving cyclists across Oxfordshire.

Joe Wilkins, 39, was cycling with a friend in Eaton Road, near Appleton, last year when he was hit and killed.

Mr Wilkins’ partner Nicci Saunders is now an ambassador for road safety charity Brake.

Mum-of-two Miss Saunders, 40, from Eynsham, said: “I think cyclists should be wearing helmets on main roads especially and I think children should be made to wear them from the moment they get on a bike, so it is a natural thing to put on.

“It’s difficult to say if it should be made compulsory to wear helmets, but certainly our girls always wear one. They pick their own and if they’re a bit more expensive I would rather pay more for them.”

In some countries it’s a legal requirement to wear a helmet, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Hamish Simpson, who was Professor of Orthopaedics at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, said: “I think it should be compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets.

“If you grade brain injuries from nought to six, with six being fatal, wearing a helmet drops you a couple of grades.

“So, instead of getting a major brain injury, wearing a helmet means you might only get a minor head injury.”

Prof Simpson, who is now a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in Edinburgh, added: “The main injuries from cyclists not wearing helmets are severe head injuries with people going into comas and also facial injuries round the eyebrows and cuts round the eye, as it rubs against the tarmac.”

But he added: “Cyclists also need to have a better road etiquette and need to be careful when pulling out onto a road.”

Richard Mann, from cycling campaign group Cyclox, said visibility was more important than wearing a helmet. He said: “We encourage people to get some back lights, especially in the evening with the clocks going back so you can be seen. It makes a massive difference.”

Comments (5)

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1:59pm Mon 28 Oct 13

Lopekal says...

So Professor Simpson thinks helmets should be compulsory despite overwhelming evidence that implementing such laws is detrimental to cycling numbers while showing no indication of actually increasing cyclist safety.

Maybe Professor Simpson should acquaint himself with the writings of Dr Ian Roberts, a Professor of Epidemiology & Public Heath at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Co-author of the "The Energy Glut")?

If Professor Simpson thinks cyclists should wear helmets, then maybe he thinks pedestrians and car passengers should also have compulsory helmet laws considering that they have head injuries from traffic incidents on the same, if not higher scale than cyclists?

Maybe he would like to acquaint himself with Olympic champion cyclist Chris Boardman, and his work to increase cycle safety, where his opinion of compulsory helmet laws is akin to mandating body armour in areas where there is a gun control problem?

Maybe Professor Simpson would like to acquaint himself with the study that showed collisions involving vehicular traffic with cyclists, the vehicle driver were solely to blame for the vast majority of those incidents, so stating cyclists need to develop better road etiquette is fallacious and wrong?

Maybe Professor Simpson would like to come down from his academic ivory tower and get with the real world for a while?
So Professor Simpson thinks helmets should be compulsory despite overwhelming evidence that implementing such laws is detrimental to cycling numbers while showing no indication of actually increasing cyclist safety. Maybe Professor Simpson should acquaint himself with the writings of Dr Ian Roberts, a Professor of Epidemiology & Public Heath at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Co-author of the "The Energy Glut")? If Professor Simpson thinks cyclists should wear helmets, then maybe he thinks pedestrians and car passengers should also have compulsory helmet laws considering that they have head injuries from traffic incidents on the same, if not higher scale than cyclists? Maybe he would like to acquaint himself with Olympic champion cyclist Chris Boardman, and his work to increase cycle safety, where his opinion of compulsory helmet laws is akin to mandating body armour in areas where there is a gun control problem? Maybe Professor Simpson would like to acquaint himself with the study that showed collisions involving vehicular traffic with cyclists, the vehicle driver were solely to blame for the vast majority of those incidents, so stating cyclists need to develop better road etiquette is fallacious and wrong? Maybe Professor Simpson would like to come down from his academic ivory tower and get with the real world for a while? Lopekal
  • Score: 15

3:27pm Mon 28 Oct 13

seamusl says...

Beautifuly stated but will be ignored by hysterial anti cycling pro compulsion (unless it applies to them) brigade, if bothered there is a wealth of information reference helmets, the effectiveness (or lack of quite often) the dangers and the terrible construction and design. More can be done for cyclists safety if those without lights had their front wheel confiscated (as in Spain) until a fine is paid. Let the fanfare begin from all the amoebic intolerents of both pro/anti cycling persuasions.
Beautifuly stated but will be ignored by hysterial anti cycling pro compulsion (unless it applies to them) brigade, if bothered there is a wealth of information reference helmets, the effectiveness (or lack of quite often) the dangers and the terrible construction and design. More can be done for cyclists safety if those without lights had their front wheel confiscated (as in Spain) until a fine is paid. Let the fanfare begin from all the amoebic intolerents of both pro/anti cycling persuasions. seamusl
  • Score: -1

4:12pm Mon 28 Oct 13

Joannalane says...

Well I think Oxford Mail ought to be congratulated on their generosity and public-spiritedness in making the offer. Helmets clearly do save lives.
On this topic I want to alert readers to the risk of PTHP after even a mild concussion. PTHP, or post-traumatic hypopituitarism, can cause impotence and infertility, chronic fatigue, suicidal depression, brain fog and weight gain (not necessarily all together), and the effects may not show until years later. Read http://bit.ly/1aaznv
Z ("Lethal time-bomb caused by a head injury" by Dr Mark Porter in the Times.) It's vital that people are warned, because if they know what is happening to them they can get checked out by an endocrinologist who can treat the condition effectively. For more information see our website www.headinjuryhypo.o
rg.uk which we set up after our son's suicide.
Well I think Oxford Mail ought to be congratulated on their generosity and public-spiritedness in making the offer. Helmets clearly do save lives. On this topic I want to alert readers to the risk of PTHP after even a mild concussion. PTHP, or post-traumatic hypopituitarism, can cause impotence and infertility, chronic fatigue, suicidal depression, brain fog and weight gain (not necessarily all together), and the effects may not show until years later. Read http://bit.ly/1aaznv Z ("Lethal time-bomb caused by a head injury" by Dr Mark Porter in the Times.) It's vital that people are warned, because if they know what is happening to them they can get checked out by an endocrinologist who can treat the condition effectively. For more information see our website www.headinjuryhypo.o rg.uk which we set up after our son's suicide. Joannalane
  • Score: -2

5:44pm Mon 28 Oct 13

seamusl says...

Well I think Oxford Mail ought to be congratulated on their generosity and public-spiritedness

Totally agree although the more cynical amongst might think that as a for profit organisation this might be good publicity, helmet use can also lead to torsional stress injuries due to the shape of the majority of helmets ie elongated, I believe an American company make one of the few head shape helmets that are better.
All I would like is for pressure on the manufacturers to improve their standards (in America the brilliant Z90 and Snell foundation standards were devalued/abolished putting people at risk who thought wearing a helmet would safeguard them), Pro choice most definitely, parents (hopefully will tell their children what to do, if the children then choose not to cycle and become obese then so be it, this is for the parent (or and child to weigh the risk intelligently and decide), we in this country scream loudly at rights/freedoms being restricted then do a sharp U turn and demand compulsion when facts may not agree.
Well I think Oxford Mail ought to be congratulated on their generosity and public-spiritedness Totally agree although the more cynical amongst might think that as a for profit organisation this might be good publicity, helmet use can also lead to torsional stress injuries due to the shape of the majority of helmets ie elongated, I believe an American company make one of the few head shape helmets that are better. All I would like is for pressure on the manufacturers to improve their standards (in America the brilliant Z90 and Snell foundation standards were devalued/abolished putting people at risk who thought wearing a helmet would safeguard them), Pro choice most definitely, parents (hopefully will tell their children what to do, if the children then choose not to cycle and become obese then so be it, this is for the parent (or and child to weigh the risk intelligently and decide), we in this country scream loudly at rights/freedoms being restricted then do a sharp U turn and demand compulsion when facts may not agree. seamusl
  • Score: 6

6:06pm Mon 28 Oct 13

burtthebike says...

Given that all the reliable evidence shows that, at best, there is no benefit from mass cycle helmet wearing, and at worst an increase in risk, it's hard to believe that some people remain convinced of their efficacy. Perhaps they still believe that the earth is flat and the moon landings were faked by NASA.

Nowhere with a massive increase in helmet wearing, whether due to a law or propaganda campaign, can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, despite the real world evidence of over 20 years from Australia and New Zealand.

Neither, despite the dire warnings in the article and subsequent comments, is cycling particularly risky, with the risk being about the same as walking. Regular cyclists, those most exposed to the risk, live longer and are fitter, healthier, slimmer and wealthier.

The only two effects of helmet laws and propaganda is to reduce the number of cyclists, and to make obscene profits for those making and selling helmets. Those people deterred from cycling lose the health benefits, get sicker quicker and die earlier. The effects are therefore large and entirely negative.

Check the facts rather than the urban myths at cyclehelmets.org
Given that all the reliable evidence shows that, at best, there is no benefit from mass cycle helmet wearing, and at worst an increase in risk, it's hard to believe that some people remain convinced of their efficacy. Perhaps they still believe that the earth is flat and the moon landings were faked by NASA. Nowhere with a massive increase in helmet wearing, whether due to a law or propaganda campaign, can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, despite the real world evidence of over 20 years from Australia and New Zealand. Neither, despite the dire warnings in the article and subsequent comments, is cycling particularly risky, with the risk being about the same as walking. Regular cyclists, those most exposed to the risk, live longer and are fitter, healthier, slimmer and wealthier. The only two effects of helmet laws and propaganda is to reduce the number of cyclists, and to make obscene profits for those making and selling helmets. Those people deterred from cycling lose the health benefits, get sicker quicker and die earlier. The effects are therefore large and entirely negative. Check the facts rather than the urban myths at cyclehelmets.org burtthebike
  • Score: 10

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