PSA: Helmets Save Lives. I’m Proof.


Let me ask you a question. You’re about to go on a bike ride with your family to go get ice cream. Do you put your helmet on?

I’m here to tell you that if you’re about to head out the door for a casual family stroll or another long ride with your local cycling group, you should always wear your helmet.

2020 brought many challenges for the entire world, but in May I found myself in a situation I never imagined. I was on my bike, heading out for an 80 mile ride up to Lake Geneva, WI, less than a mile from home when the next thing I knew, I was laying in the middle of an intersection after making contact with a Ford F-150.

It was another typical Saturday morning. I was heading out of town in a very residential area. I was in the bike lane approaching an intersection (with no stop sign on my end) when a Ford F-150 attempted to cross the intersection before I cleared. By the time I realized he was attempting to cross, it was too late and I went straight into his rear passenger door. My left shoulder took most of the impact and instantly I was separated from my bike and flown in the air. I landed on my left butt cheek in the middle of the intersection and continued to roll through the street.

I was able to walk away without a scratch on me, but my shoulder wasn’t as lucky. After the most expensive uber ever (ambulance) to the nearby hospital, I found out that I had a Type III AC Joint Separation. (AC stands for acromioclavicular.) Essentially, my shoulder blade and my clavicle were no longer attached and separated by over 6 millimeters. I had also torn 2 major ligaments holding them together. Not ideal in the middle of a pandemic.

Treatment for this specific type of separation can be controversial. Some doctors will immediately recommend surgery while others suggest physical therapy before deciding on surgery. Ultimately, it depends on the patient and the level of pain they can handle and the amount of function and strength they can regain on their own with therapy. Of course, I chose to opt for physical therapy, determined not to undergo a surgery that required a 4-month recovery process.

At the end of the day, I was able to avoid surgery with therapy. However, I will always have a permanent “bump” on my shoulder, AKA my clavicle will forever protrude out of my shoulder.

I’m extremely lucky and I know exactly what this could have been. It goes without saying that my helmet saved me from further injury that day. As the weather starts to get nicer in the next few months and you enjoy some time on two wheels, please don’t leave your helmet at home. Make sure you know the rules of the road, and always be aware of your surroundings. You just never know when an accident might happen.

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