Making out a case for helmet

MEMBERS OF the medical fraternity in Kochi have offered their full-fledged support to the imposition of the helmet rule for two-wheeler riders in the State, despite a sizeable section of riders opposing the High Court order in this regard.

Motorists have been complaining that the continuous use of helmets results in hair loss and headache. But neurologists say that the pros certainly outweigh the cons, as even a minor injury on the head can lead to loss of life.

The neurologist at the Lourdes Hospital, Pachalam, Gigy Kuruttukulam, says that studies conducted on the use of helmets have proven that fatalities can be reduced by up to 40 per cent if the riders wear helmets. "Cyclists too must wear it like in many other countries. The cyclists, mainly students, are often grieviously injured in road accidents owing to lack of protective headgear," he says.

"Customers should go in for standardised helmets that absorb all types of impact on its surface. The pillion riders are more vulnerable since they face a higher risk of being thrown off the vehicle when it goes out of control. Considering the helmet weight and possibility of neck strain, it is desirable to wear helmets with chin guards made of unbreakable plastic. This is to prevent the chin guard from collapsing in the event of an impact. The helmets should have aeration, to prevent profuse sweating," says Dr. Gigy.

Making out a case for helmet

The neuro surgeon at the Ernakulam Medical Centre, Mahesh Sambasivan, says that wearing a helmet alone is not enough. The strap has to be fastened properly, so that the helmet does not fly off. Standardised, well-insulated helmets do not hamper visibility, neither hearing. It is high time riders began getting used to helmets and began considering it as a part of their attire, he says

"Having worn a helmet, one shouldn't feel over-confident and race along the road. A helmet does not protect a person from sustaining injury to the neck or the spinal chord, he says. A helmet does not protect one from getting run over either," Dr. Mahesh adds.

The senior consultant neuro surgeon at the Krishna Hospital, P. Sreekumar, says that helmets are highly effective in preventing serious damage to the brain. "The purpose of wearing them is to absorb the shock, thus protecting the skull. But one has to be wary of duplicate and sub-quality stuff, which is available aplenty in the market,'' says Dr. Sreekumar.

The Ernakulam district president of the IMA, M. Venugopal, says that participants at an IMA executive committee meeting had unanimously supported measures to make helmets compulsory for two-wheeler riders (including pillion riders). "Apart from helmets, seat belts too must be made compulsory, to prevent head and chest injury to car passengers,'' he says.

By John L. Paul