August 28, 2013

Editorial: Reinforcement for advocate


---- — Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Jerome Davis has been a longtime advocate for bike-helmet use by people of all ages. He recently survived a first-hand lesson on how important that message is.

Davis had a long career at CVPH Medical Center and was also a consulting neurosurgeon for Adirondack Medical Center, Massena Memorial Hospital, Alice Hyde Hospital, Elizabethtown Community Hospital and Clinton Correctional Facility.

He has been interviewed by the Press-Republican and other media many times over the years and still doesn’t hesitate to call us if we run photos that show bike riders who weren’t wearing helmets.

As a surgeon, he has seen the life-changing injuries that can occur when people are thrown from a bike. An avid biker himself, he never heads out without a helmet. That proved to be more than fortuitous, as he related in this email:

“This June, while in visiting in Denver, Colorado, I was engaged in my usual bicycling when I had a horrific accident. I incurred a cerebral concussion, five fractured ribs on the left with a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and was covered with abrasions on my arms and legs.

“Hospitalized for eight to nine days, I spent three of those days in the Intensive Care Unit with a chest tube. My helmet, which was newly purchased four days prior, broke open, and there were four cracks in the internal head molding. It saved my life.

“After recovering quite well for two weeks, we headed home by car. On our drive home, approximately one hour west of Syracuse, I developed severe abdominal pain, was admitted to Crouse Hospital for emergency surgery on a torsion of the small intestine. It is unsure whether it was a result of my accident. Now home, I am very slowly getting back on my bike and am having good time.

“What disturbs me most in our area of Plattsburgh are the number of people — young, middle age and older — who I see biking without wearing a helmet. Why does the law in NYS require helmets only up to the age of 14? It makes no sense at all to me and should not make sense to anyone else.

“If you are over 14, does that mean you can fall off a bike and hit your head and you will be fine? As a retired neurosurgeon, I can categorically tell you this is not true. I am living proof of the fact, for if I had not be wearing my helmet, I most likely would not be here ...

“I see children of all ages without a helmet on their bikes; why? Come on, parents, let’s get control and insist that all and anyone who cycles should wear a helmet. The brain is fragile and though protected by the hard skull bone, it is not protection enough from severe damage when falling from a bike.

“Parents should take the lead by wearing one, and children should be told: ‘No helmet; no bike.’”

That’s the message from a man who knows the reality from all perspectives: bike rider, parent, doctor — and, now, patient. Listen up.