Student suffers traumatic brain injury

Twelve-year old Luca Annunziata has a long history with helmet safety, for he experienced traumatic brain injury after falling at the Abacoa roller rink while not wearing his helmet.

“I was playing roller hockey at the roller rink. I was just skating around without my helmet and I slipped and that’s when it all went down,” Annunziata said.

It was just a normal day for Annunziata when he fell. He developed a bad headache and threw up, but that was not a shocker for the Annunziatas because this has happened before. It was not until later that day that they found out this was more than just a bad headache.

“My parents found out at the house after I fell asleep. The ambulance picked me up and took me in a Trauma Hawk, that took me to St. Mary’s hospital,” Annunziata said.

Luca was unresponsive when he got to the hospital and a scan showed traumatic brain injury which required immediate brain surgery.  He was in a coma after that for 14 days and the Intensive Care Unit for a total of 26 days.  He had to relearn to talk, walk, and eat among other things. All this could have been prevented if he was wearing a helmet. Annunziata said that he wouldn’t have had to go through what he went through.

“Helmets can prevent brain injury and brain shift and cover your whole head so you don’t get scars or get hurt,” Annunziata said.

According to safety.fwha.dot.gov, Bicycle helmet use by children ages four to 15 would prevent up to 45,000 head injuries, and up to 55,000 scalp and face injuries. Luca has a lot to say about why kids should wear helmets, because he has already experienced the many traumas of not wearing a helmet.

“I think kids should wear helmets because you could fall or worse, you never know what could happen if you’re on your scooter or on your bike, accidents happen to everyone,” Annunziata said.

According to, webmd.com, choosing the right helmet was essential to helmet safety. Make sure the helmet fits. It should carefully touch the head all the way, but should not be too tight, also, it should not move more than one inch in any direction. Make sure the helmet stays on. Tighten the straps, then pull. The helmet should not come off. Make sure there is a (Consumer Product Safety Commission) CPSC sticker on the helmet. The CPSC sticker ensures that the helmet meets the U.S. helmet safety standards.

Make sure that the helmet is a bright or reflective color. Bright colors, patterns, or reflective coloring make it easier to see someone in low light, or rain. Choose a basic style. Stay away from helmets that have sharp edges, visors that may break off, or straps that are flimsy and too thin. Make sure when somebody gets a helmet, it’s a helmet they like, because that is one of the reasons why they wear it.

“[A person can wear] any helmet as long as you’re wearing one is the best. Make sure it fits right and is not wobbly, and the strap is on your chin,” Annunziata said.

Annunziata has some advice for sports players and bickers and people who are not wearing helmets.

“I think that if there not already wearing a helmet then they should start wearing a helmet because you never know what could happen, you could fall and hit your head or anything,” Annunziata said.

After Luca’s traumatic experience, he was eager to raise awareness about helmet safety. There foundation is the Remember Luca Helmet Safety Foundation.

“Our goal is to raise money to buy my own helmets so we can give them to the police station, so the police station can give them to kids who can’t afford them, and to raise awareness,” Annunziata said.

Whether he is riding his bike or skating in the roller rink, Luca Annunziata now wears his helmet during every activity. He continues to spread awareness about helmet safety, and they are open for donations at rlhelmetsafetyfoundation.com.

“One fall,” Luca said, “can change it all.”