ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's the busiest time of the year for motorcyclists on area roadways.
In 2015, 60 motorcyclists died in Iowa and 52 in Minnesota. Those numbers are courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reported more than 5,200 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2016, in the United States. The organization estimates that helmets saved nearly 1,800 riders lives in 2015, and around 740 more could have been saved if everyone had worn them.
Nearly a decade after a Rochester man was in a motorcycle accident, going less than 20mph, he battles a traumatic brain injury.
The ten year anniversary will be this July 4th. It was then, Brad Mattison's life changed.
"I clunked my head and lights out... No helmet," explained Mattison.
Mattison would spend more than two months in the hospital with his family by his side. He was in a coma for a month.
"When I finally went home I went home in a wheelchair, I was paralyzed on the right side," said Mattison.
Ten years later and Mattison is still going to rehab once a week, to work on his strength, endurance and stability.
At the time of his accident Mattison owned four motorcycles.
"I sold all four of them. I hated to do it I love motorcycles and I love riding. I've been doing it since I was 12, I loved it, but I would never put my family through that again," stated Mattison.
He is now an advocate for safety. He told KIMT he will stop and talk to bikers at the gas pump when he is filling up with fuel, if he notices they aren't wearing their helmets.
"Sometimes they don't want to listen and I say listen up, give me 30-seconds. So many people go ya know that's not a bad idea, I'm going to start wearing my helmet," said Mattison.
He told KIMT he never wore a helmet when riding his motorcycle.
"People would say you really should wear a helmet, leather and boots, you should have all that stuff and I just blew them off. I thought if you fall off a motorcycle break an arm or a leg no big deal, it will heal. I didn't realize how fragile your brain is," recalled Mattison.
Since the accident, Mattison spends a lot of time at the blood center, even though he didn't receive blood during his time at the hospital.
"I'm donating blood because they took such great care of me and it was so fulfilling to get back on my feet again - that one of the few things I can do is give blood," said Mattison.
Mariela Rivera is a Trauma Surgeon at Mayo Clinic and told KIMT you can't argue the data that proves helmets can greatly decrease a brain injury. Symptoms of a brain injury can range from mild such as a headache and nausea to re-learning how to walk and talk, it could even result in death.
"When you're having an injury to your head and your are wearing a helmet it is a protection. There is no question about it and that can affect the impact that you are going to get into your brain and the consequences of that which we will call traumatic brain injury which can be completely different," said Rivera.
Since Mattison is such an advocate for donating blood we wanted to remind you that blood centers are always in need of donation. In fact, the need spikes during the summer months with more motorcycle and car accidents, which can lead to a national shortage. Mayo Clinic's Blood Donor spokesperson told KIMT that blood has an expiration date just like milk and supplies can quickly dwindle.
While all blood type donors are needed the one that is most universal is Group "O'.
To learn how you can donate click here.