Can You Skateboard Without A Helmet?

I remember reading in the news about a nineteen-year-old boy who rode his skateboard without wearing a helmet. Apparently, he went ahead to skateboard without a helmet and had sustained a terrible injury. This accident left him in a semi-conscious state due to the severity of his head injury after getting involved in the skateboarding crash.

His brain began to swell and this led to the removal of some part of the left side of his skull. For a while after his surgical procedure, he could not speak even though he was awake and responsive.

Often enough skateboarders think a trick is a breeze and that they could land that jump in their sleep but there is a reason why accidents do happen. Accidents are not planned but this does not mean that the damage caused by them could not be minimized. Protective gear such as helmets should be worn at all times when skateboarding.

 

Can You Skateboard Without A Helmet?

If you are still wondering if you should wear a helmet, there is one major reason why you should do so and that is to improve your safety. Helmets are designed to protect athletes against concussions and head injuries by minimizing the impact of a collision in almost all sports with no exceptions to skateboarding. Accidents do happen. Some could have been prevented and others can’t. Failure to wear a helmet is a manmade accident in the making even if you do know how to fall properly.

According to statistics collated from the National Trauma Databank, skateboarding accidents within the following age groups; younger than 10 years, 10 – 16 years, and older than 16 years, about 24.1%, 32.6%, and 45.5% respectively suffered from traumatic brain injuries. Helmets were discovered to help prevent most head injuries. These statistics also show that age plays a primary factor in your probability of getting a head injury while skateboarding and those older than 16 are most likely to suffer. Also, head injuries caused the most deaths and disabilities.

To get a deeper understanding of what happens during head collisions while skateboarding, you need to have an idea about the anatomy of every human’s head. The brain sits within the skull and is mounted on the base of the skull. The spinal cord is connected to the underside of the brain. Surrounding the brain is the dura which is a very tough tissue. The cerebrospinal fluid lies between the brain and the dura and it protects the brain from mechanical shock. The scalp covers the skull to provide an extra layer of protection.

Direct contact and acceleration/deceleration during collisions are the major causes of brain injuries. During direct contact or collisions, the rider’s head could hit an object, and in response, the brain moves within the skull and collides with the skull. This could either result in a concussion or major injury. However, acceleration/deceleration injuries could lead to open or closed head injuries. Open injuries include skull fractures and penetrating injuries. Closed injuries result in swelling, bruising, and tearing of the brain tissues and blood vessels which cause concussions, contusions, and intracranial haemorrhages[1].

Unfortunately, even with these saddening stats, many skateboarders prefer not to wear helmets because they find it very uncomfortable. There have been some who even said it does not look cool but most often, people do not consider the consequences. Although many complain about sweating excessively when they wear helmets.

Functions of a Helmet

Helmets offer three functions:

  • They reduce the deceleration of the skull thereby reducing the force with which the brain hits the skull.
  • They ensure that all parts of the skull receive an equal impact.
  • They also prevent direct contact between the skull and any object.

Components of a Helmet

A skateboard helmet consists of four primary components, namely; the shell, the impact-absorbing liner, the comfort padding, and lastly, the chin strap.

  • The shell

The shell is usually hard and smooth. It basically distributes the impact of a collision over a widespread area. This mitigates or reduces the impact of the collision before it reaches the head. It also has an index of protection rating to prevent objects from penetrating through it.

  • The impact-absorbing liner

This is the soft layer made from Styrofoam that braces the head upon impact by absorbing the shock when the head tries moving after motion stops.

  • The comfort padding

This is also a soft layer, and it is next to the head. It keeps your head comfortable.

  • The chin strap

This helps with adjusting the helmet according to your head’s size. It also ensures that your helmet remains on in the event of a collision.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Helmet

Labels

These tell you the date of manufacture as well as if the helmet meets the required standard. When judging the helmet by its specification, it must meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) standard.

Helmet Size

You have to ensure that the helmet fits very well so it remains in place. To get the perfect fit, you will have to take into account the circumference of your head. Grab a measuring tape and measure the circumference of your head about an inch above your eyebrows. This ensures that whichever helmet you purchase does not end up being too large or small for your head.

Type

This is another factor to consider. Some helmets are multipurpose for most sports, while some are specifically designed for skateboarding. Each has different impact resistance, but the most important to note is to change your helmet once it has been damaged.

Coverage

When buying a helmet, you must make sure that it doesn’t sit too high or too low on your head. Take into account your hairstyle as a helmet that felt snug when you had long hair could become uncomfortable with short hair.

Vision

You must be able to have a perfect view of your surroundings when wearing a helmet.

Side Straps And Chin Straps

The side straps should be in front of your ears by a bit, and the chin straps must be centred snuggly underneath your chin. It must not be too tight. This is so the helmet does not pull your head downwards, neither should it be too loose that it dangles in any direction.

Do’s and Don’ts When Caring for Your Helmet

  • Do change your helmet once it has been seriously damaged.
  • Don’t keep your helmet in locations with extreme temperatures, i.e., too hot or too cold.
  • Don’t soak your helmet when cleaning it.
  • Don’t lean or sit on your helmet.
  • Don’t decorate helmets without reading the instruction label on it because it could affect the safety of your helmet.
  • Don’t use a cracked or broken helmet to skate.

Conclusion

Wearing a helmet is a very controversial topic. It is quite logical to always keep it on when skateboarding. It may be the only thing stopping you from a fatal accident or even death itself. Skateboarding is legit, a fun sport, and sadly enough, a lot of injuries do occur daily. However, always wearing the right protective gear could totally mitigate or reduce your chance of getting a fatal injury.

Glossary

[1] intracranial haemorrhages – Link