This was a comment on http://www.emsexploration.com/wordpress/this-helmet-saved-my-life-an-employee-spotlight/, but they never published it and then closed comments.
First off, I’m really sorry to hear you had such a terrible accident, and I’m very glad to hear you’ve managed to recover from it. Please don’t misunderstand me on that, in what I’m about to write.
I have to say, it sounds like you suffered quite a number of very serious and potentially life-changing, even life-threatening, injuries across your body – the spinal injury in particular. The recovery time and process for several of these injuries would have made quite an impact on your life. The important thing to note is these are injuries for which a helmet gives no protection. To think that the major lesson to take away from your accident is “wear a helmet” is, I’m sorry, dangerous. The real lesson is:
“Helmets are not magic and will not protect you from major injury, even death, generally. If you want to be safe, slow down!“
Indeed, it is actually possible that the helmet contributed to your accident and hence your injuries, by making you over-confident and taking more risks on a fast downhill descent than you might have if not wearing helmet . A well-known effect, called “risk compensation” or “risk homœostasis“.
I often don’t wear a helmet. I’ve had other cyclists comment on this, and question why I dare to take such a risk. Then I see these same cyclists fly past on downhill descents, barrelling through corners and taking far more risk than I would. They are surely far more likely to have an accident because of this, and their skin, limbs, torso, major organs and face are no more protected than mine are! Further, there is clear evidence that helmets, while helping protect the cranium (but to a lesser extent than is often thought), increase other injuries. Particularly neck and facial injuries.
So, again, I am baffled that the life lesson you drew from your accident was that helmets are uber-important. The real lesson surely should be “Slow down! Take less risk!“. In the unfortunate event of a crash, the lower the speed, the better the outcome!