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Livingston Elementary fifth-graders examine human brains to learn about the dangers of biking without helmets.
Date published: 6/7/2012
By PAMELA GOULD
Handing over a healthy human brain to a group of fifth-graders tends to get their attention even if it's three days before summer break.
Displaying a second brain blackened from a deadly fall drives home a point.
Paul Aravich, a neuroscientist from Eastern Virginia Medical School, visited Livingston Elementary on Wednesday to talk about the importance of bike helmets in preventing head trauma.
Aravich has made a career out of teaching medical students about the marvel that is the human brain, and he didn't hesitate to press Livingston students to use theirs throughout his fast-paced presentation.
"Which is cooler--having a helmet on your head or your brains on the street?" he asked.
"A helmet on your head," he said after a short pause. "That's a no-brainer."
Aravich visited the Spotsylvania County school as part of a program sponsored by the Young Lawyers Section of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.
Students were shown how to properly wear helmets, and each is to be given one today by the lawyers group.
Fairfax attorney Zack Desmond, an avid bicyclist and triathlete, said he never rides without a helmet.
He also pointed out that Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, always wears his as do all of the competitors.
"There is nothing not cool about doing it," Desmond said.
Attorney Melissa Ray of Woodbridge shared the story of a 19-year-old whose life was forever altered two years ago when he suffered head trauma while skateboarding without a helmet.
His plans for college evaporated and he's now living at home, dependent on his parents, she said.
The speakers urged students to wear helmets for biking, skateboarding, four-wheeling or any other activity that could lead to a traumatic head injury.
"What is the best treatment for a brain injury?" Aravich asked.
"Prevention," he said after stumping the students.
Aravich cited a federal Centers for Disease Control study that said almost all brain injuries from bike accidents can be prevented by helmets.
In between passing around a healthy brain, a human heart, a lung, a spinal cord and a portion of a skull, Aravich spoke to the rising sixth-graders about temptations to come.
With summer break at hand, bicyclists are encouraged to take simple yet important steps to stay safe while cycling.
Always wear a helmet.
Wear shoes, not sandals or flip-flops.
Ride in the same direction as traffic.
Make eye contact with a driver to be sure you are seen if you plan to go ahead of a car.