DR. HOOK- Buckle up: Newton would be proud of you

Where do myths and misconceptions come from? Some people swear that eating white raisins soaked in gin relieves arthritis pains. (Gin should be a card game, not a drink. Yuck!) Some people tie a dirty sock around their necks to fight off colds. (My luck, I would get athletes foot on my neck.)

Many people still believe insulin will kill you. My aunt had diabetes," they say, "and she was fine until the doctor gave her insulin. She was pushing up daisies a year later.

I try to explain that insulin is used for those who have Type II diabetes which usually means the person probably already had diabetic complications like heart disease, atherosclerosis, and kidney failure. But with a lack of knowledge, the cause-and-effect is misconstrued to make the insulin look like Jesse James– i.e. guilty.

Stories and rumors can be very destructive in our society– look at Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis. (Those two speed skaters must have had headaches from the cold air like an ice cream headache– to go out there and bicker to the world like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.) Can other peoples tales affect our own good judgment?

Seat belt compliance in a moving vehicle is the law. However, a large percentage of Americans refuse to buckle up. The excuse I hear the most is, Suppose my car goes off a bridge and into the water. I could be trapped by the seat belt. The second most common: When I was in a car accident, the paramedics told me that if I had worn my seat belt, I would have died. (Who were these paramedics? The actors from the 1972 TV show Emergency?)

Every trauma medical journal has reported that compared to seat belt users, nonusers experience two times increased mortality, worse injuries, more suffering, longer stays in the intensive care unit and the hospital, more medical dollars spent, and more work days lost. Sounds like comparing bungee cord jumpers and those who decide to stay on the bridge.

For my patients who fear being trapped, I talk Physics 101. In the movie Fearless, Jeff Bridges drives a car into a wall with Rosie Perez holding an object– like a fire extinguisher or something– in her arms. Jeff and Rosie dont go flying through the windshield and into the wall– they wear seat belts. The fire extinguisher does go flying through the air, through the windshield, and into the wall: Newtons first law of motion.

So if you're in a car accident, would you even be alive after being thrown around– like into the windows, windshield, or dashboard? Let's survive the impact first– and worry about unbuckling the seat belt second.

I once worked in a brain injury rehabilitation center, and let me tell you something: a severe head injury is a bad thing. It's worse than getting caught for cheating on your taxes. The most common reason for a head injury resulting from a car accident is: you guessed it– not wearing a seat belt.

Noncompliance with seat belts is correlated to the following: drinking and driving, smoking; being young, male, unemployed, a passenger; speeding, having a low level of education, driver's license demerit points, previous collisions, no dependents; or traveling a short distance. Sounds like those Dukes of Hazzard.

It's true you can be hurt by a seat belt if you dont wear it correctly. The bottom strap should go around your pelvis, not your belly– especially for a pregnant woman. The shoulder strap should not wrap around your neck like a noose. Children need proper seating devices.

I wear my seat belt 100 percent of the time in a moving car, and I counsel all my patients to do the same- though some get snotty about it with me. But, you know, I dont feel like flying like Superman at 60 mph through a windshield. Clark Kent is too smart for that.