head injuries in unicycling

On a recent thread: -


John Foss said-

Usually they say the helmet is the most important piece of gear. If you bang up your helmet more than a pair of kneepads or gloves, there’s a big problem. But the thing is, you can break your knees and wrists over and over, and still heal and be able to use them, though not necessarily as well. One good conk on the head that causes a brain injury, and you could be done. Permanently. Maybe you’ve never seen anyone who this has happened to. This is understandable, as those people don’t get out much.

There’s been a lot of posts on the use of helmets and pads and the consensus seems to be that head impacts are rare but wear a helmet cos you do hit your head it can be really serious.

Without wanting to be morbid I was wondering if there have been cases of life destroying head injuries from unicycling.

I realise that this is a painful thing to bring up for anyone who does know people it has happend to, but I think it would be a contribution to this debate and could help to stop it happening to others.

One of the things that convinced me to wear a helmet was a couple of true stories about skaters who’d died/recieved brain damage when they came off without a helmet.

I’ve seen no head injuries. Luckily, we all wear our helmets.

One lady in the club cracked her helmet after a mis-mount-backflop.

I’ve smashed my head into the ground (pavement, dirt, rocks) more than once.

I am also interested in the statistics which Dave has requested. U-Turn has mentioned Bike shop stories, and I have heard lots of Cyclist stories where helmets save the lives of two wheeled riders. Has anyone ever had a life-threatening accident on a Unicycle while NOT wearing a helmet? And of those, how many were doing high risk manouvres which could be expected to end in injury anyway? It seems that most of the Unicycle accidents which involve hitting heads are done while wearing a helmet. This could be partly due to the larger size of your head while wearing a helmet, which makes it more prone to taking hits. Maybe some people crash accidentally on purpose to justify the amount of money they spend on safety gear. I can see how wearing shin armour would be useful especially for walking an agressive Unicycle which can lash out and attack at any moment. A helmet is way down on my list of Unicycling things to buy, not at all a high priority. Maybe I will get one some day as an optional extra for wheel walking practise, to go with the wrist guards I have not yet used.


Do you know people who crash cars because they’ve got airbags?

I wear a helmet for anything more than riding to campus and back. I’ve never hit my head, but there is always the possibility.

If you’ve seen the Under No Influence video (http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=25560) I cringed on seeing how close their heads came to hitting railings, concrete walls and the like. Excellent riding, but all it takes is one whack.


I’ve crashed and hit my head when riding on the pavement (sidewalk) with no helmet. There was a weeny little bump that caught me out and I had rubbish freestyle pedals that were about to die and provided almost no grip. It hurt. Lots. It took about 30 seconds to get up again and I couldn’t ride home and had to walk. Hence me wearing a helmet when riding outside.


Re: head injuries in unicycling

In article <phil.pl39o@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
phil <phil.pl39o@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)Rowan wrote:
)> Maybe some people crash accidentally on purpose to justify the amount
)> of money they spend on safety gear.

)Do you know people who crash cars because they’ve got airbags?

Have you ever heard of the concept of “risk homeostatis”? It’s why
safety equipment doesn’t have as much effect in the real world as it
does in the laboratory. When people feel safer, they do things which
are more dangerous, cancelling some of the effect of the safety

This is why it’s particularly bad to give someone safety equipment which
makes them feel safer without truly protecting them much.

“You won’t need 'em 'til you need 'em”

I’m sure that is what Yogi Berra would say if he cared to give his opinion.

Statistics are very misleading, and trying to live your live according to 'em is going to bite you bad.

Government officials worry about these things as they apply to groups of people they find themselves responsible for. These are the guys and gals that can reasonably debate whether “the burdon of a bunch of folks wearing helmits is worth saving a few brains”. In a lot of cases these officials have determined that there is a benefit.

What we have in the individual case is quite different. You should be concerned with the effect on your life only, your entire future life, weighed only against the burdon of you wearing a helmit, not everyone else, just you.

If you were a rational government official, looking over statistics at work, you might rationally decide that the overall benefits on society don’t demand everyone wear helmits, but I would bet that when you finished your work, and went home, you would demand that your child wear a helmit. Ponder this.

While I’ve never treated any Head Traumas from Unis, I have had more than my shre from skateboards, rollerblades, bikes, etc etc

Dave is right…One good, well-palced “conk” can shut the lights off for good:(

When you are doing tricks like this, you probably do not notice how close you are coming to breaking your neck.

This is why I stopped doing gymnastics in high school: We were all doing flips over the horse when I decided to stand beside the horse to see what it looked like. I hadn’t realized that we were all coming within a half inch or so of bashing our heads. I couldn’t get over it and moved on to safer activities. I hope a review of this video will have a similar effect on those involved: not to make them stop (the tricks are awesome), just to get some safety equipment.

Re: Re: head injuries in unicycling

Once I was practicing a backspin and I fell backward, without my usual wrist guards there to give me a landing point. Once my hands hit the pavement, in reflex to protect them, I lifted them off the ground, and then my elbow hit.

This is one example where the lack of equipment caused two injuries. Safety equipment is usually affixed to impact areas, areas where we land to protect our vital areas. Learning to use your safety equipment is important. Sports professionals seem to do this, whether they are sliding down a half pipe on their knee pads, or skidding across pavement in body armor.

The head isn’t an impact point. Most of us would do everything to avoid hitting our head. Wearing pads in other areas will actually help, but you can never get rid of the possibility.

I was once riding around a corner on a bike, not fast, but it was morning and the street was wet with dew. In my mind I had made it around the corner perfectly. Yet some time after I hit the ground, I realized what had happened. My bike slid out from under me. I hit, ankle, hip, shoulder, head. Fortunately I was wearing a helmit, and I got back up and went on my way.

Most of the Head Injuriy patients I have treated/flown fell rearward, and whacked the “Occipital Region” of the skull.

inui is right…The head in rollerbladeskateboard type injuries usually strikes as a secondary impact…The results can still be devestating.:frowning:

Coming from a Mtn Biking background I have seen helmets save people from head injuries many many times over… I myself have been lucky enough to never take a good shot to the head.
I saw a lady once take a spill that I am confident would have killed her had she not been wearing a helmet. Because she was it took her a few minutes to shake off the cobwebs but she was not injured in the slightest (although I am sure she had a headache and a stiff neck the next morning). I never cycle without a helmet unless it is just a leisurly ride.

I have had one bad fall on a uni and I didn’t have a helmet on. I was learning backwards in my driveway and got going too fast. When I tried to step off I was already out of control and went down to the pavement fairly hard backwards. I bruised my hip and cut up my hands and arm…but these injuries happened mainly because I readjusted my fall so that I wouldn’t hit my head. Had I been wearing a helmet I would not have done the damage I did to my hip and arm, both of which were pretty roughed up. Now whenever I practice a new skill I make sure to pad up.

When i was about 6 or 7 i was riding around the neighbourhood with my family and as i was riding home my tire slipped on the pavement and i fell to the side and whacked my head on the curb…(i wasn’t wearing a helmet) and even though i started bleeding and stuff nothing really bad happened…luckily. if i had been higher up instead of on a 16" Bike it probably woulda done a lot more damage.

I am a FIRM believer in helmet usage. Twice, while racing motorcycles, I’ve had the misfortune of landing on my head, resulting in a compression fracture of C1 and then C7 (broken neck!!!) Both of these crashes were at low speed (less than 20mph) and had I not been wearing a helmet I’m sure I would not be here typing this right now. I also had 3 helmets crash-warrantied from damage incurred while mountainbiking. I know it everyone’s own decision to wear a helmet or not. Listen to someone who speaks from experience: wear your helmet.

Learning to ride I cracked my helmet. Nothing dramatic, just a busted helmet and a little headache. I’m puzzled by the attitude that you can only hurt your head doing extreme activities. Watching beginners learn I would say a helmet is a must.
A cut up shin does more damage than a cut up head therefore shin guards are more important? I don’t get it. :thinking:

I have fallen a couple times when roller-blading backwards, and hit so quickly I had no option but to absorb the impact–hard–with my head. Fortunately, both times I was helmeted, so I walked (slowly) away, once with a concussion. In both cases I was in that “seeing stars” place for a bit. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

This kind of got started on another thread, and there was some discussion around spoon-feeding of someone after an injury. I can’t argue against the “ultimate freedom to choose” camp, I can only say that I choose helmets because I have a 9 year old son, and I don’t want him to be the one spoon feeding me.

Lucky Man Kenny! A LOT of important “wires” exit the skull and travel through the neighborhood of C-1 - C-2 :astonished:

Re: head injuries in unicycling

On Wed, 25 Jun 2003 07:07:47 -0500, onewheeldave
<onewheeldave.pkw3c@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>Without wanting to be morbid I was wondering if there have been cases of
>life destroying head injuries from unicycling.
I haven’t heard of any, but I’m pretty sure that is because most
unicyclists usually use their helmets.

By coincidence, my newsreader is set up such that it initially comes
up displaying a particular post by Eddie Moffat. So I see it every
day, as if I needed a reminder. May I just quote part of it here:

On Sun, 3 Nov 2002 00:16:10 -0500 (EST), unicycle-guy@webtv.net (Eddie
Moffat) wrote:

>By far my worst injury was hitting a metal crossbeam right between the
>eye’s. I was riding with a baseball hat on and was looking down, the
>morning sun was bright in my eye’s so I didn’t see the one inch strip
>of metal between this big sign. I broke my nose, cracked the back of my
>skull open, popped my right eardrum, had a blood clot on the brain and
>came close to death. I now wear a helmet and it truly saved me about 2
>years ago when I hit another metal beam while being distracted by some
>I may be a bit accident prone, but I’m still riding today. Thank God!

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“No two crotches are alike. If they are, I don’t want to know about it. - John Foss, on seat comfort.”

This past weekend i took a blow to the forehead. I hit my forehead off a picnic table, *JUST underneath where my helmet protects. Its sore to touch, and had a read mark, but no other signs of a bad injury (bruising, blood) it hurt a fair bit, alot more than it would have if i would have hit my arm, or leg with the same force. I can’t imagine what it would be like if i was a really hard hit… OUCH!


This entire thread seems to have no evidence supporting those who say Unicyclists should wear helmets. Bicycling accidents have been mentioned over and over, as well as car crashes and motorbike crashes. These accidents are all totally unrelated to Unicycling. In case some people have forgotten, a Unicycle has one wheel, and a Bicycle has two wheels. The crash which Klaas mentioned where Eddy was hit between the eyes would not have been prevented unless he was wearing a full face helmet. It was more of a lesson of be aware of your surroundings rather than to wear protection. The accident which Ryan had proves that helmets are not foolproof, and you can still be hit in the forehead or face while wearing head protection. If no one is going to come forth with a tale of a Unicycling accident which resulted in a head injury while not wearing a helmet, I will rest my case and decide that a helmet is not necessary except for in extreme circumstances.