Letter: Conference safety findings misleading

BrainTrust Canada Association…are strong proponents of the use of helmets for youth and adults alike.

To the editor:

Recently, researchers at the University of Calgary released statements from the Zurich 2012 Consensus on Concussion conference, which concluded that there was not enough evidence to show that helmets prevent concussion.

We are concerned that the media focused primarily on this piece of the report.

We would like to add more context to this discussion so that the general public is not left with the impression that helmets are not effective in preventing injury and therefore do not need to be worn.

BrainTrust Canada Association has been working with adults with brain injuries since 1986 here in the Okanagan.

We have often been the only support for these individuals and their families, in dealing with the life altering changes that accompany a brain injury.

Our organization has seen the heart breaking effects of brain injuries on the lives of hundreds of people, some of whom have sustained their injury through a fall or while participating in a sport without wearing a helmet.

A concussion is a change in brain chemistry that impairs brain function.

A concussion is a brain injury, and if not resolved it can lead to permanent damage.

A brain injury can happen in an instant but last a lifetime, and unlike other health conditions that resolve, a brain injury is something people live with for decades.

We are strong proponents of the use of helmets for youth and adults alike, and know that a properly fitted helmet can absorb force from a crash or a fall and decrease the risk of a serious brain injury by as much as 85 per cent.

The thickness of the skull is only about one quarter of an inch and when it comes into contact with something solid such as ice or the sidewalk, offers little protection to the brain.

We applaud the medical community for its focus on brain injuries and concussions, and we are in agreement with recommendations such as encouraging the reduction of contact and violence in sports, with an increased focus on fair play and respect.

However, we must continue to advocate for helmet use for all sports where there is significant speed or a hard surface involved, such as biking, skateboarding, in line skating, skiing, or snowboarding.

Our not for profit association is proud to collaborate in Kelowna with the city bylaw officers and the RCMP to offer a Helmet Safety Program, which rewards youth for positive safety behaviour and also provides helmets to those who cannot afford them.

We believe that prevention is the only cure and that helmets, along with taking safe vs. foolish risks and knowing your limits, is the best way to mitigate risks and ensure that we all live a long, healthy life.

For more information on BrainTrust Canada visit braintrustcanada.com or contact 250-762-3233.

Magda Kapp,

BrainTrust Canada Association



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