A concussion is a type of brain injury that is typically cause by a hard blow to the head and is defined by the shaking of the brain inside the skull. usually when the head is hit, the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your brain cushions the impact but when your head is hit hard enough the brain can crash into the skull which is when a concussion occurs. Many incidents can cause a concussion and the brain can move inside the skull differently based on what occurred and how it was hit. The brain can simply crash into the rough surface of the skull but it can also twist and spin inside the skulls having different effects. Typically concussions are caused by sport related incidents but they can occur by any sort of head trauma or even just the shaking of the head and you can not always tell that one has happened from the outside. Concussions can also be rather serious and can impede simple day to day tasks and necessities; “Repeated concussions or a severe concussion may lead to long-lasting problems with movement, learning, or speaking.” (WebMD) Concussions, depending on where the impact and concussion occur they can have very serious consequences. With such a serious the most logical thing to do is do whatever you can to prevent a concussion.
Now the most obvious thing that comes to mind when thinking of the question of how to prevent concussions and other forms of brain injuries caused by trauma is a helmet. Makes sense; helmets are the only thing I can think of that you put on your head to help protect it? But how do they work? When a head comes into contact with another object it doesn’t just stop immediately however the ‘stopping time’ of a head is pretty fast, it depends on the type of crash but is generalized at about 2ms. Now what a helmet does is extends that stopping time so that the head has more time absorb the impact, reducing the effects of the impact. Now different types of helmets are designed to prevent different things but in general a helmet works with a foam interior that “crushes, controlling the crash energy and extending your head's stopping time by about six thousandths of a second (6 ms) to reduce the peak impact to the brain.” (helmets.org) Even going from 2ms to 8ms can be the difference between permanent brain damage and a little bump. Moral? Wear a helmet.
One sport in which wearing a helmet in is kayaking. Kayaking can be very dangerous especially in whitewater; it is easy for one to flip over in dangerous conditions and by doing so they expose their head and torso to impact on underwater obstructions. Kayak helmets are pretty basic in the fact that they have an outer shell that is lightweight and meant to drain water, they can be pliable/flexible to absorb an impactor hard to distribute the force over the rest of the helmet, an inner lining made up of foams to absorb a force. Kayaking isn’t always regarded as the most dangerous of sports and in fact it has been calculated that the “fatality rate per 100 000 participants to be 2.9” (American Outdoors). Even though fatalities are not the most common in kayaking, injuries occur much more often and according to the American Outdoors Association around 90% of all injuries to kayakers occur on the upper body; specifically shoulders, neck face, and head. That is a pretty huge number and enough reason for anyone kayaking in whitewater to wear a helmet. In general wearing a helmet while participating in any sort of sport or hazardous activity is a good idea but in kayaking especially it is crucial.