and it's serious stuff I'm about to ask of you.
All of you!
Especially any of you who have children. Especially any of you who have children who ride bicycles, skateboards, scooters, long boards, tricycles, or anything like unto them.
And not just children. You. Your spouse. Your parents. Your friends. This problem is no respecter of persons.
Did you know that EVERY 21 SECONDS SOMEONE IN THE UNITED STATES SUFFERS A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY.
No, not a concussion or minor brain damage. A traumatic brain injury! Once every 21 seconds!
What am I asking, you ask?
Helmets!!! Make them mandatory. Make them a habit. Don't renege. Never. Never.
Fourteen years ago, at this exact time of year Dave and I were on our way to serve on a remote atoll in the Equatorial Pacific. Six months later (and 18 months earlier than planned) we were hurrying home to our youngest son. He suffered his TBI while traveling an estimated 30 mph, down a hill, on a long board (fast skate board).
We were told, via fax, that if he lived he would be a vegetable. They anticipated he would remain in intensive care for 30 days. It took us six days, by way of four countries, to reach his side.He had miraculously been moved out of the intensive care unit the day we arrived. When our oldest son picked us up at the airport with the ICU report he told us not to get too excited by that news. When we arrived at the hospital we saw why. He had advanced to the stage of the most primitive of robots. As the saying goes, "the lights were on but no one was home."
Some days later I sat watching him while he slept and I literally saw him "return." I cannot define it any better than that. It was a very spiritual experience. There is no doubt in our minds that Heavenly Father was there every step of the way. He still is.
Our son was a miracle. He made progress each day ---- relearning to walk---speak--- swallow --- eat---read---write and---- just plain function.
Though scary, it was also fascinating. He spoke fluent Spanish and his very first words, uttered in the middle of the night, were in Spanish. His nurse hurried to seek out a Spanish-speaking employee to come talk to him.
He advanced approximately one year in age per week for the next few months----certainly an interesting experience.
While he continued to be a miracle, this moment of folly extracted an immediate heavy payment. He had just started into the National Guard, training as a medic on his way to becoming a member of the Army's Special Forces. That dream was crushed----along with his head.
As he came off the long board he landed flat on the back of his head, shattering the base of his skull, suffering a skull fracture from that base to above the right temple, and a gash that took over 125 stitches to close.
In spite of all this damage to the back and side of his head, the major damage was caused by the concussion to the frontal lobe. Among other things, the frontal lob controls decision-making and impulsivity.
The injury caused him to lose his sense of smell. That may not seem very important until you stop and think of the impact that loss would have on your day-to-day life. Think how many warnings, emotions and memories are invoked by scent.
He was released from the hospital 21 days after the accident and continued outpatient therapy for several months.
Still most definitely a living miracle, there was residual damage that affected his employment and many other aspects of his life for a long time. . .Things you probably wouldn't recognize unless you had known him before the accident.
Many doctors and therapists and programs helped him reach his potential---line upon line and precept upon precept.
Yes, his injury was so severe that a helmet wouldn't have prevented the head injury but it would have cushioned and lessened it. This long, hard, tedious, and frustrating road did not have to be.
While still in the hospital, his neuro-psychologist sadly reported the teenage son of a close friend also went off a long board but---he didn't make it.
Proper fitting helmets!