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Caregivers, bikers urge Parkites to wear helmets, learn first aid

At Woowdard on Friday, a tent educates a crowd about safety precautions during extreme sports, such as helmet-wearing.
Intermountain Health
A crowd is educated about about safety precautions during extreme sports at Woodward July 28, 2023.

Woodward and Intermountain Health have teamed up to shed light on the frequency of bike accidents around Park City, and ways riders can prevent serious injuries.

In a town known for extreme winter sports, the summer biking season is also notorious for frequent hospital visits.

An event Friday at Woodward advocated for more awareness of safety precautions — and for people to adopt good habits and stick to them.

Dr. Rhonda Taubin is a physical medicine and rehab neurologist at Intermountain Park City Hospital. She works primarily with patients who have brain injuries and concussions, treating about 130 patients with bike-related trauma injuries each year.

“You would have thought, maybe, more [injuries happen from] skiing, but it's actually, we see a lot more mountain biking injuries, significant head injuries," she said. "What we know is that 80% of traumatic brain injuries can be prevented with just a helmet.”

Taubin said injuries happen in all levels of activity — from steep downhill rides to short neighborhood trips when people think they don't need a helmet, a practice she warns against.

Parkite Shaun Deutschlander, who called herself a “repeat offender of head injuries,” talked about her four concussions and recoveries from 2006 to 2013.

Her most recent accident happened on a familiar bike trail at Deer Valley. She could not recall her name or her husband’s, and for months she was partially paralyzed, slurred words and experienced vertigo.

She urged bikers to consider the long-term impacts and to take precautions like wearing helmets and riding in control. She also stressed the importance of a full recovery. Deutschlander’s last injury took nine months to heal.

“This is not the time to like, you know, show how tough you are by pushing through and getting back on the bike quickly, that will come in time," she said. "I think the general idea is taking ownership of what we're doing in the mountains. As fun as it is, it's also essential that we take ownership and responsibility of where we find ourselves, how far out we might find ourselves. Keeping ourselves safe while playing is just as important as the act of playing itself.”

Courtney Morrison, an Intermountain nurse senior practice manager, said safety precautions are key to keep a bad situation from becoming worse.

“Just do your best to be prepared when you're out there, so if an injury does happen, you are there so that you're prepared to get off the mountain as easily as possible," she said. "Make sure you bring a phone that's charged, and that you have water and snacks and some basic first aid so that you can get down safely.”

More mountain bike safety information and how to avoid major injuries can be found here.