All you have to do is look at the bike helmet to know that it saved a child’s life — or at least, saved a child from more serious head trauma.
Dr. Hess is all-too-familiar with the aftermath of childhood bike accidents. As she wrote:
I see children in my Pediatric ER for head trauma after falling from a bike very often. Some of these children are struck by cars but many sustain head injuries simply from losing control of their bikes while riding. Helmets in this situation can make the difference between a simple concussion and severe neurological injury and even death.
In the photo, the bike helmet the child had been wearing was destroyed in the accident. As Dr. Hess noted:
Take a look at the helmet below. Imagine this blow being taken by a child’s head WITHOUT the protection of a helmet.
And yet, a surprising number of children are riding their bikes, skateboards, and scooters without a helmet. Dr. Hess cited a recent study from the University of Michigan, which found that nearly one in five children don’t wear a helmet while riding a bike. In addition, more than half of children don’t wear helmets while riding scooters or skateboards.
I see children in my Pediatric ER for head trauma after falling from a bike very often. Some of these children are…
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 467,000 bicycle-related injuries in the U.S. in 2015, including 1,000 fatalities. Children and adolescents have the highest rates of non-fatal injury and make up about one-third of bicycle-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms.
As Dr. Hess explained to Dearly, a helmet could have made a big difference in the severity of many of the cases she sees:
It is not infrequent that I see a child with a traumatic brain injury that I’m sure would have been much less severe, or even avoided altogether, if a they had been wearing a helmet.
However, it’s not sufficient enough to just buy a helmet and remind your child to wear it. Children, especially older kids and adolescents who have lower rates of helmet use, can still take them off or use them improperly.
“Simply telling a child to wear a helmet is not enough,” Dr. Hess told Dearly. “Parents need to check to be sure they are actually wearing them when out and about and assure that everyone in the family knows that no helmet means no riding (or no doing whatever other activity they’re doing when they should be wearing a helmet).”
To assure proper protection a helmet should fit appropriately, straps need to be tightened and clipped at all times, and if there is a fall that results in the helmet striking any hard surface the helmet needs to be replaced. Even a relatively small impact can result in damage that can not be seen by simple inspection and can decrease it’s ability to protect as it should in future impacts.
Dr. Hess’ reminder was applauded by Facebook commenters who have seen what can happen when the helmet is left behind.
Dr. Hess concluded with a reminder that it’s important for children to wear a helmet every time they ride something with a risk of head trauma, whether it’s a bike, skateboard, scooter, roller blades, skates, hoverboard, etc. And it all starts with the parents. She wrote:
“Set a good example and make sure you always wear one too. Your kids need you just as much as you need them!”