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MedWatch: Protecting Your Head

Accidents can and do happen, but you can do things to protect you and your family.

That means wearing a helmet for most winter sports, because choosing not to can have life or death consequences.

A lesson with a happy ending in today’s MedWatch report.

“It was the last run of the night and I remember getting on the tube and just barely getting over the hill, and that’s all I remember,” says Jessica Lampton.

Jessica Lampton was 11 years old when she got into a very serious tubing accident.

She remembers waking up at Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“I just couldn’t believe it happened. I didn’t know what happened, she said a tubing accident and I’m like what?” explains Jessica.

“She had facial fractures. The impact she took on the right side and that fracture ran along all the way from her occipital bone to her sinus cavity, so it was cracked all the way down the side of her face, then it went back to the very back part of the skull,” says Jessica’s mom.

After five days in the hospital, it would still be a long time before Jessica was able to be a kid again.

“Full recovery time we were told would be 18 months to heal and that’s exactly what she took. She was back to school, but there was no sports. She wasn’t allowed to play with a group of kids for fear that if she hit her head again we would have to go through the whole cycle again of doctors and the healing process,” says Jessica’s mom.

Jessica was not wearing a helmet.

“The kid lost a year and a half of her life because of an accident like this, and it could have probably been prevented if they had helmets on.”

It’s a message that is very important to Munson Medical Center’s injury prevention coordinator Jennifer Ritter.

“Our rule is, if you’re doing something that you would like to do fast, that’s the time you should wear a helmet, because you want to protect your brain,” explains Jennifer.

The Chill Out for Winter Safety Program tours schools spreading that message. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, tubing or sledding, protect your head, even if it’s just in your backyard.

“For sledding, they say you can wear a bike helmet, a multi-sport, a ski helmet, because there isn’t anything designated. If you’ve got nothing, or you don’t have a specific activity helmet, something on your head is better than nothing.”

Today Jessica is 16 and perfectly healthy. She and her mom continue to preach the importance of protecting your head.

“It seemed like a lifetime wondering if I was going to get my daughter back, and until you’ve walked that mile you can’t just assume it’s not going to happen, because it can happen very easily.”

Jessica says, “It’s not fair, in my opinion, what happened to me, and it’s not fair that it happens to anyone. And if a helmet can save your life, why are you not doing it?”