Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injuries
J. Brad Bellotte
As a parent, health care provider, teacher, coach, or neighbor, keeping children healthy is a top priority. Children need our advice and guidance to keep them safe.
During the summer months in Erie, we all can’t wait to get out. Cycling is a favorite activity of the community. The safety of the bicycle helmet is an area that we can all focus on improving.
A properly fitted bicycle helmet that is worn every time is the best defense against brain damage from bicycle accidents.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in 2014, there were nearly 2.9 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths from head trauma. Children accounted for over 800,000 of these visits.
A significant number of these injuries were due to sports activities, including cycling.
Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries by 85%. However, despite this, a national study of high school students found that 87.5% said they rarely or never wear a helmet.
A properly fitted helmet should:
- Fit comfortably
- Feel good
- Do not move side to side or back to front
- Fit to your head – not tilted back
- Sit less than two fingers above your eyebrows to protect your forehead
In addition to wearing a helmet every time, riders should remember to follow the rules of the road.
Use appropriate hand signals at intersections.
Consider the type of clothing worn; make sure nothing will get caught in the wheels or the chain. Clothing should be chosen in such a way that it is more visible to others, is always defensive and is aware of your surroundings.
Your primary care physician or pediatrician can be a great source of additional information. Many local bike shops in town will be more than happy to spend some time making sure you have a properly fitted helmet.
To learn more online, see think first.org. ThinkFirst is one of the leading foundations for injury prevention and provides educational materials for parents, teachers and healthcare providers.
J. Brad Bellotte, MD, is a neurosurgeon at UPMC Hamot.