LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Riding a bicycle is something most children in Kentucky learn to do, and it's fun.
But bike accidents also lead to thousands of visits to the emergency room, or worse.
A Kentucky mother and her young son, are leading an effort at the state capital this week, to make riding a bike, safer, and save you from their nightmare.
"April 21st, 2010. Around 5:30 PM, in Prospect, Kentucky. In front of our old house, out front."
It's a day Heather Floyd will never forget.
Her sons often rode their bikes together.
Heather says, "His brother did a trick or stopped suddenly, and TJ, I
guess didn't realize, and ran into the back of him, and flipped over the handlebars, and hit his head on the road, the concrete."
Neither boy had a bike helmet on.
"So he's not bleeding," I asked her.
Heather said, "No."
I asked, "Any bruising, just looks like he's asleep?"
Heather said, "Yes."
She wasn't sure TJ would live.
He'd suffered a life threatening brain injury.
Heather says, "He was in what they call the dying process. So it was bad."
Five- years, and seven surgeries later...13-year old TJ is still coping with brain damage from that accident. He just had surgery on both legs. His bones are growing, but not the muscles...so doctors had to stretch them. Casts on both legs don't stop TJ from getting around.
Heather says, "My thought process is, for him to be able to dress on his own, which he can, bathe on h is own, which he's getting there, really its just getting out of the tub, that's a safety issue for him.getting in is okay. Putting his shoes and braces on, we're getting there on the braces."
TJ's mom still thinks about what if...what if... he'd worn a bike helmet.
She says, " as a parent you don't get rid of that feeling that you hold some responsibility for that. Or if I had just known. No matter how many people tell you don't do that, don't beat your self up, you still do that."
Dr. John Draus, pediatric surgeon at Kentucky Children's Hospital says a bike helmet can minimize brain damage. "Takes that shock of the trauma from the bike helmet, prevents that force from being transmitted to the child's head and brain."
In Kentucky, bicycle accidents are the fourth leading cause of traumatic brain injuries for children five to fourteen years.
It's estimated bicycle helmets are 85 to 88- percent effective in minimizing head and brain injuries.
Dr. Draus says, "Broken bones heal, the brain is not as resilient as a broken bone...so it's much more serious to have a brain injury. Even a mild concussion can have long lasting effects on the child because their brain is developing."
If passed by the legislature, TJ's Bill would require children under 12- years old in Kentucky to wear a bike helmet when riding on public roadways, and public bicycle paths.
Heather hopes it will save another family from dealing with a child's brain injury.
Heather says "I don't know that a helmet would have stopped the injury, because of the impact they thought he was hit by a car, it was that severe, just from riding a bike. I do believe it would have lessened the severity of it."
Heather and TJ will be at news conference Thursday, January 14th, at the state capital to help lawmakers and doctors introduce the bill. If it's made law, a parent could be fined 25-dollars for their child not wearing a bike helmet. First time offenders can buy a helmet, and by showing proof of that, the charge will be dismissed, and no fine issued.
For more information about brain trauma, brain injuries, and bike helmets, you can go to UK Healthcare's website.