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Think A HEAD

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Photo: Cam Fitzpatrick

As far back as kindergarten, I was given a choice:  “You may do your work now or you may do it while the other kids are at recess.  For an active and social kid like me, that choice was obvious.  Another choice that is obvious to me is to wear a helmet while riding.  While I am thankful that our ski resorts give us the freedom to decide based on our own beliefs and experience, it’s my personal decision to protect my head by strapping on the brain bucket.   

 My parents attached a Styrofoam helmet to my head at a very young age when I tagged along on their biking and skiing adventures.  The neon and eccentric stickers made it all the more awesome and I often forgot to take it off when roaming the neighborhoods and campgrounds that were my domain.  When skateboarding, my parents made me wear a helmet until there came a time when they weren’t watching and the choice was my own.  Since a helmet was natural to me, I didn’t choose to take it off.  Perhaps I knew what my future held.  

I suffered a fairly mild concussion during a pipe competition when I was eight.  Slamming the transition with the back of my head rendered me woozy for a few days.  But that was before concussions were taken too seriously by coaches, parents, and doctors.  A few days later, I was shredding the slopes like any other JH 8 yr. old that aspired to be a stand-out rider.  

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At the age of 19, I was treated to a toboggan ride complete with a C-collar and backboard, after catching an edge on the lip of the pipe at a competition in California. Making finals and winning best trick were vague memories that helped soften the blow, but I was out of the running.  

Injuries are inevitable and we as action sports enthusiasts know that.  Suffering many different injuries and a few blows to the head myself, I’ve had to take action in recovering the best way possible.  Enduring different treatments and learning about the brain’s involvement in pushing the body’s physical limits. I’ve come to understand and appreciate the role of my neurological system.  After my most recent head injury this past spring, it has not only changed the way I look at situations in snowboarding but I’ve realized the importance of spreading awareness of brain trauma. See, everyone who has had an impacting injury in a sport can relate to one another. It gives us the power to connect and spread our knowledge. With the support of many different therapies and dedication to work as hard as can, I’m now feeling rested and ready for another season of challenging myself. I’m hopeful to perform better than I ever have before. 

 Wearing a helmet or not while snowboarding is your decision.  It’s the same as wearing a seatbelt – not everyone believes it will reduce the extent of injuries they’ll suffer in an accident.  A quick review of research on the internet leads me to believe that there is conclusive evidence to support or the benefits of wearing a helmet while riding. It’s encouraging that the action sports world is taking head injuries much more serious because they can sometimes lead to walking the thin line of life or death. I want to fuel the fire for the youth coming up in the world of snowboarding  that it’s cool to wear a helmet, even if idols they look up to choose not to wear one. I’ve often said I’m SO thankful I had my helmet on when I’ve fallen and I know thousands of people can relate to that statement. I truly believe it has reduced the extent of my head injuries and I’m glad it was my helmet that cracked, not my head. After all, I’m grateful to be granted the chance to get back to my game. Knowing what I do now about the brain, I still have so much to learn on and off the hill and I’ll never take that for granted.  

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