Should you wear a seatbelt while driving your car?
The answer seems obvious, right?
First, it’s the law and it’s an expensive fine if you don’t.
Second, you enjoy living, and seat belts save lives.
Honestly, do you know a person who would answer this question by saying seat belts don’t work no matter their education level nor economic status?
Well, here is my argument that you shouldn’t wear a seat belt, use a helmet, use a life jacket, use a parachute nor have health insurance….or at least pretend it’s not available.
Let’s start with some background as to why I am saying something so crazy.
I was working with a patient a while back whom had surgery to repair a torn ACL because he wanted to get back to all things extreme sports. Now, I don’t want a debate about whether or not this was a “sham” surgery as the social media and recent research is circulating. In this case, it was an appropriate procedure. As his recovery progressed, he was asking about skiing. We were talking about helmets for skiing. He mentioned that he often doesn’t wear one. I inquired more. He said that if he is wearing one, he often takes more risks skiing since he has it on as compared to without. I mentioned that my concern is that you don’t have protection of your brain in the event that someone else runs into you.
Another patient years ago was also anxious to get back to skiing. He too mentioned he doesn’t like using a helmet. I said that my problem is that if you don’t wear one you then don’t have protection for your brain and if you get in an accident you will become a bigger problem for your wife with a head injury.
This past weekend I observed a father take his child out on a paddle board WITHOUT a life jacket on. Not even one on the board as that would have at least prevented the fine. Now, he was careful and didn’t go out very far. I can’t say for sure why. Was he just being cautious because they had no life jackets or did he stay close to shore in case he saw an approaching coast guard so he could avoid a ticket? I don't know, because I didn’t ask. Honestly, I was mostly angry.
I could do a pubmed search to cite how these safety measures save lives or reduce brain injury, but we already inherently know they do. Here is a fun study on parachutes here.
Do you drive more carefully or carelessly because of the seatbelt?
Do you ski faster or slower than normal because you are wearing a helmet?
Do you make poor lifestyle choices because you have health insurance that will pay the doctors taking care of you when you have a stroke?
All of these safety nets, (seat belts/helmets/lifejackets/parachutes/health insurance), are designed to help in the event of catastrophic events. These catastrophic events could be inflicted by yourself or another person or simply bad luck. We must remember that these safety nets are designed to help, but they do cost money to produce, test, and even deliver.
Maybe the most important issue here is that none of the safety measures even work if they aren’t being used. Like the seat belt doesn’t even work if it isn’t buckled whether you are driving 10 mph or 80 mph. Nor does a life jacket save you from drowning if it isn’t on. Nor does the ski helmet protect your head if it isn’t on when you crash into a tree or a snow boarder accidently clips your ski or you hit ice.
These safety measures can only work if you use them.
These safety measures aren’t perfect and sometimes don’t work depending on circumstances. Like health insurance may deny a claim and you have to pay out of pocket. Or the parachute got tangled. Or the air bag didn’t release while the seat belt worked when you were rear ended while you were driving 30mph. Or even, the life jacket kept you afloat while you carelessly drove your jet ski, but you got a head injury.
I don’t mean to sound dooms day here. Really I don’t. See I enjoy skiing, with a helmet, but I have recently slowed myself down because skiing fast, even with a helmet puts me at risk.
I use the safety nets as my back up plan if I make a mistake or someone else does. Yet, I pretend like I don’t so I slow down, become more aware of my surroundings so I can avoid catastrophe.
As a clinician, services that I have rendered to patients were denied for various reasons and now I am stuck with the decision to bill the patient directly or keep fighting insurance. I could go on about this, but my point really is this.
You need to plan for the worst and hope for the best while you enjoy your life.
If you ignore the plan for the worst-case scenario, and frivolously enjoy life ignoring all common sense, then where does that leave you when something actually happens?
Do not live your life frivolously. Don’t take ridiculous risk with your life because that safety net is only as good as you are lucky.
We all know seat belts save lives in a car accident, yet why doesn’t everyone CHOOSE to buckle? Shall we blame the police officers for not catching the driver and giving them a ticket?
We all know that helmets save lives, yet why doesn’t everyone CHOOSE to put it on? Is this another reason to blame the officers for not catching and ticketing?
We all know junk food and soda is bad for you, yet why do people CHOOSE to eat and drink it? Is it the food industry’s fault for producing the product?
We all know health insurance should cover appropriate medical care, yet why doesn’t it? Shall we blame the doctor for billing you after services were rendered and insurance declined?
It’s easy to blame someone else for the choices we make. It’s hard to accept that we are sick or injured because we made a bad CHOICE.
Live your life as if you don’t have a safety net, but be grateful that it is there….but don’t expect it to be free nor perfect.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove a frivolous life ignoring basic common sense.
Replace with appropriate safety devices but behave as if they weren't available. Eat real nutrient rich food to restore your health because depending on a someone else or insurance may not work out as you hoped.
Restore a soaring life.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Connect Well....Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.