Teenage cyclist warns others to wear helmet after brain injury

18-year-old Christian Tugwell, from South Wales, was riding his BMX stunt bike on a ramp when he fell.

The accident caused a huge bleed on his brain and resulted in him needing life-saving surgery.

His mother said: "Christian and his mates are of this generation of lads who care about their appearance and don't want a helmet spoiling the look of their hair or their carefully chosen outfit. But leaving his helmet at home for the sake of not messing up his hair could have cost him his life."His mother Maxine, 52, took him to hospital where a scan showed Christian had suffered a massive bleed on the brain. The college student needed life-saving surgery to remove part of his skull. She described how at first Christian showed no immediate sign of injury after she collected him from the skate park near their home. Mrs Tugwell said: "He didn't have any bruising or swelling so we went home. He was acting quite strangely but I thought that was the shock. Later that evening he couldn't stop vomiting and suffered a nose bleed and that's when I rushed him to A&E." Surgeons removed the front of his skull to access the bleed and halted the flow of blood. They then used 23 staples to close the wound leaving Christian with an eight-inch scar down the right side of his head. Mrs Tugwell said: "It was extremely frightening for Christian and for me as his mum. While he was recovering there were a couple of moments when Christian would break down - furious at himself for not wearing a helmet. Everyone at the hospital told him that his injuries wouldn't have happened if he'd been wearing a helmet. It's just their vanity not to wear it, I suppose. Christian after his surgery
 
"The neurologist said he was a very lucky boy to come away from his accident walking and talking and for that we are so so thankful. "It's an incredible fact that the nurses said 90 per cent of patients on the neurology ward come in for injuries that could have been prevented if the patient were wearing a helmet."
Christian has gone back to school but is still taking it easy. He said: "I get tired very easily and need to take more breaks. The doctors say that this is normal after a brain injury. At the moment I'm not ready to begin riding my bike again but hopefully in a year or two I'll start again. In the meantime I'd like to join a gym and get stronger. I lost quite a lot of weight while I was recovering"
I just want to stress the importance of always wearing a helmet even if is a small journey down the road."Christian
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