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Unstrange Phenomena

20 March 2009

Brain: Natasha Richardson's Injury: Could a Helmet Have Helped?

"There is, for the moment, much more speculation than information surrounding actress Natasha Richardson's severe, and perhaps fatal, ski injury. Part of the confusion is the very nature of her accident — an improbable injury, little more than a head bump on a bunny slope, that has left an otherwise healthy 45-year-old woman fighting for her life. It has also left onlookers wondering not just what happened to Richardson, but whether a helmet could have prevented it.

The details of Richardson's accident are sketchy, but what is known sounds benign — at first. She was taking a lesson on a beginner slope at the Mont Tremblant ski resort north of Montreal, with an instructor but without a helmet. She fell at the end of the lesson and struck her head, but was alert and conversational afterward and did not complain of any ill effects. An hour later, in her hotel room, she developed a severe headache. Within hours, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in critical condition.

Richardson's family and doctors have released no information regarding her condition. But whatever her prognosis, it appears that Richardson was the victim of an unfortunate collision of biology and physics — a collision that is becoming scarily common in the worlds of athletics and organized sports.

The human body is a sturdy one, but only up to a point, able to withstand collisions of about 15 m.p.h., which is about as fast as an average person can run. The skull is designed to be especially rugged — the permanent home and helmet for the brain — but even it can't take a much more serious hit. The problem is that over the centuries, we've developed all manner of ways to exceed a mere 15 m.p.h. creep."

By Jeffrey Kluger @ Time.com

From Denny: A 15 mph collision is all our skulls can withstand??? No wonder car accidents are so debilitating!

Sadly, Natasha passed away yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, especially her young children, and friends who will miss her.

To read the rest of the article (that was written a couple of days ago) click on the title link.

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