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Friday July 19th, 2013

Posted at 10:00am

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An Amherstburg man says wearing a bike helmet saved his life.

All his life, Steve Hayes never wore a helmet, but this year he turned 50 and he decided that it was time to start living life a little healthier, and asked for a new bike for his birthday. On June 1st, 2013 Steve decided to take his health one step further and purchased a bike helmet and wore it on a couple of short rides in his Amherstburg neighborhood.

On June 4th he decided to ride his bike to Windsor from his home in Amherstburg. He set off from home with his helmet securely on his head and at 6:30am he was hit by the passenger door side view mirror by an F-250 pickup truck.

He was thrown over the handlebars and landed on the road. “My back is pretty sore, I’ve got a huge bruise on my left hip, some minor road rash on my left hand and elbow and I missed 4 days of work as I recovered. My helmet is cracked in a few places and I was told three separate times by the police and paramedics at the scene, and by the ER doctor at the hospital, that without a doubt, I would have suffered a severe brain injury and quite possibly been killed if my head had impacted the ground unprotected”, described Steve.

“I was riding safely, I didn’t plan on falling off my bike, I didn’t plan on getting hit by a truck, I didn’t see it coming and I never knew what hit me till it was over. Had I not been wearing a helmet I’d have been killed. I bought the helmet 4 days before I got hit.”

The Brain Injury Association of Windsor/Essex stresses that wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of injury and death. They state that cycling is a reasonably safe activity that millions of us enjoy, but each year in Ontario a few cyclists die after a crash or a collision. Many more cyclists suffer permanent brain injury, often radically changing their personality and their capacity to operate in the world as before.

“Even experienced cyclists sometimes fall off their bikes. It is hard to prepare for a fall and it is easy enough to hit your head on the ground”, explains Laura Kay, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Windsor/Essex. “The fact is helmets reduce brain injuries by 88%. We are being proactive here with our prevention messaging and encourage everyone to wear a helmet while riding a bike”.

BIAWE runs a program called Helmets on Kids which provides bicycle helmets for children who come from families that can’t afford a bicycle helmet or don’t place an importance on purchasing a helmet for their child. The Brain Injury Association of Windsor/Essex County has purchase over 4500 helmets since 2009 and distributes these through school programs, bike rodeos and other summertime events. Each year the program has grown and this year was no exception. “The program is very successful in our community. We wouldn’t be able to provide the helmets if it wasn’t for our community partners”, says Kay. “Over the past few years there have been many contributors to the program that was started by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and we are grateful to all of our community partners.”

“Do me a personal favour, if you ride a bike, wear a helmet”, cautions Steve Hayes.

For more information on Helmets on Kids, brain injuries or to get involved visit the Brain Injury Association here.

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