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Think Helmets are Uncool? Read Austin's Story and Think Again!

So You Think Helmets Are Uncool?

Girl On A Board recently came across this story on the S-One.com Helmets site. It's message is so powerful and important that we knew we had to tell Austin's story here on GOAB.

Words we often hear associated with skateboard helmets...uncool, dorky, babyish and just plain ugly. If you believe that, then consider these words as well....coma, traumatic brain injury and death, because those words may very well be associated with your future if you continue not wearing a helmut.

Here's Austin's Story:

My name is Sarah Carter.  I am Austin's mom.  Austin's father's name is Chad Wanderscheid. My son's name is Austin Wanderscheid.  He is 15. Austin started skateboarding about 6 years ago and was really good at it! Austin was going about 15 mph and hit the left side of his head.Austin Wanderscheid

Austin showed a great interest in skateboarding and caught on quick.  His father, Chad, opened up a skateboard shop in Beaverton, OR that they called Lab 33 which was like a dream come true for Austin.  He and his friends would often go there after school and would spend a great deal of time there.  Austin's father wanted to create a "safe" place for kids that wanted to do something healthy and active.  The shop had an indoor skatepark that was amazing.  Lab 33 greatly promoted helmet safety and required that anyone skateboarding on the premises wear a helmet.  Needless to say, one morning in August (2010) Austin and two of his friends were on the way to Lab 33 which was only a few blocks from the house.  They were on an ordinary road and had helmets with them, but were not wearing them at the time.  Austin hit a reflector in the road and it stopped the board and launched Austin more than 15 feet from the board.  He was ambulanced to OHSU and was in surgery within an hour.  

Austin was in a coma for a week after the sugery and we were told that he had a 20% chance of survival.  While we were in ICU I was educated by the neurologists about the statistics regarding skateboard related accidents at that time.  They told me that individuals that did not wear helmets were rated the #1 reason for brain/head trauma.  We spent alot of time at OHSU and I am happy to say that with awesome doctor's and lots of rehabilitation and hard work, Austin is doing very well and is an absolute miracle!  Unfortunately though, he will never be able to skateboard again amongst almost all sports etc..... and forever will need to remain extremely cautious about anything that could injure his head.  We have been told that he cannot sustain much force at all for his brain has already been so greatly injured.

As a mother that has experienced first hand the magnitude of what can so simply be prevented, I want to take this opportunity with my son to do all that we can even if it saves only 1 life.

Pro skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams said, "No, I never thought that would happen to me, and I had only been skating without a helmet on street for a few months. It sure taught me a lesson!" 

These are not the words of a beginning skateboarder. Lyn-Z, winner of the top positions in both women's street and vert the past three years at the Gravity and X-Games, has been skating since she was a year old. She showed pictures of the 11 staples that had held her head together as she told about one of the toughest lessons she had to learn about skating safely.

"I was always the one to wear my helmet . . . and then a few months before I got hurt I went without a helmet," said Hawkins. "I felt good on my board so I just kept skating street without it." 

Lyn Z, who also chooses S-One safety gear, can give people plenty of reasons to skate with a helmet. "It's uncool when you have huge metal staples in your head like I did," she said. "It's uncool to see a friend not wear a helmet and get so badly hurt that they don't know who you are . . . It's uncool to look into someone's eyes and they look empty because they have had so many concussions." 

Still Not Convinced? Take a look at this video of Austin's head after his injury. (Warning: this is a very graphic video and not for the squeamish!)

Be sure and check out our follow-up stories on Awesome looking (and SAFE) helmets for girls and The Right Way To Choose A Helmet -- coming soon on GOAB!

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