Do you know that bicycle-related injuries make up a vast chunk of emergency room admissions every year and 1.2 million physician visits each year in the United States? Approximately 4.4 million children who receive sports-related injuries each year, out of which 20 to 40 percent were due to bike accidents.
According to Matthew J. Thompson, and Fredrick P. Rivara at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, not wearing a helmet is the most crucial risk factor in all such injuries. (Source)
A Little History of Bike Helmets
Bell Auto Parts gets the credit for the first actual helmet for cyclists. A hard plastic shell with padded foam on the inside was the beginning of the modern helmet. At first, they were promoted by the manufacturers only as a business strategy.
However, by the 1980s, studies began showing that wearing a helmet could reduce head and brain injuries significantly. It then led the government and private companies to invest in designing technology for safer helmets. Now, they don’t only offer protection but also come packed with features such as GPS, music streaming, and a walkie-talkie.
Controversies and Research
While looking at the stats and data for head injuries, it is astonishing to find that wearing a helmet is still a controversial subject. Indeed, a helmet does not provide safety for the whole body. However, this argument still stands null in front of the severity of any injury that’s done to the head in case of a fall. Any damage or shock to the brain could be life-threatening or may result in life-altering conditions.
According to Helmets.org, 75 percent of fatalities in kids related to bike injuries could be prevented by wearing a helmet. Additionally, kids under 14 years of age are five times more likely to get in an accident that can cause a traumatic brain injury. Hence they require even more vigilance and protection.
Why is It Important for Kids and Toddlers to Wear Bike Helmets
Firstly, all bike riders must wear head protection gear. Secondly, protection against any injury becomes even more serious business when it comes to kids and toddlers. Their brains are still in the developmental stage, and any harm at this point could pose some threats to later developments and growth in life.
Biking is a fun sport; however, accidents do and can happen at any time as parents do understand that sometimes kids won’t listen. You can try to entice them by allowing them to bike for a longer duration, or whichever techniques you see fit. Subsequently, you need to educate yourself as well as your kid to see the benefit of wearing a helmet. Remember, not only is it important to wear a helmet, it’s important to make sure the helmet fits perfectly.
Here are some important points and information to remember while persuading yourself and your child on the significance of the issue.
It’s All About the Brain!
The first five years of a child’s development are especially crucial for brain growth. In addition to the physical aspect, children are learning cognitive, social, linguistic, and motor development. It all happens in the brain, and it is highly likely that any injury or damage done to the brain could lead to a hindrance in all developmental aspects.
Head injuries usually amount to fractures, wounds, and lacerations. A brain injury is defined as a radiologically visible sub-calvarias injury that impacts the brain tissues. In a study conducted by Ruchi Kaushik et al., 500 patients were observed with head injuries. Out of the 500 patients, 17.4% were riding their bikes with helmets, while 44.8 % were not wearing any helmets. (Source)
It was observed that children suffered the worst form of injuries. Out of 15 children in the study, ten were not wearing a helmet.
Laws and Regulations on Wearing Bike Helmets:
There are 22 states, including the District of Columbia, that require kids and minors to wear helmets. However, there is still no federal law that pertains to this effect. The State of California was the first to put an age restriction on riders under five years of age and each state has their own bicycle helmet laws.
Wearing a helmet will also inculcate the habit in your child from a young age.
CPSC Recommendations on Bike Helmet Safety:
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, no bike helmet can prevent concussions, but they do reduce the risk of severe head fracture or a brain injury by absorbing all impacts. The materials used in helmet construction are designed to protect against brain injuries. However, you must be aware of any claims made by manufacturers about protecting against concussions, as they simply can’t guarantee this.
The CPSC also recommends using different helmets for different activities since there are various safety standards for various activities. For example, all helmets made or imported into the US must have the CPSC standard 16 C.F.R. part 1203.
CPSC also advises choosing safety over style. Many expensive helmets that come fully packed with all modern bike helmet features do not provide adequate protection in case of a severe accident. On the other hand, there are less expensive options that offer more safety and meet all standards. You must also avoid ‘novelty’ helmets as they provide little or no protection at all.
It is also prudent to replace a helmet after an accident. Ideally, you must replace a helmet in 5 to 10 years, but this depends on the situation. If the helmet is used casually or has been in use for often, it is better to buy a new one sooner.
Lastly, always find a helmet that has CPSC approved written on it. It must fit properly, should not fall on the face and cause hindrance in vision, and should have some ventilation holes to save your kid from extra sweating.
The simple act of wearing a helmet is the cause of saving many lives each day. It may be cumbersome for kids in the beginning, but with a little persuasion and a guide to the facts mentioned above, you can persuade them into wearing it. It is too risky to take a chance with young kids.
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