Is wearing a bike helmet that important?
Kurt Dickson, MD, is an emergency room physician at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.
Question: My kids refuse to wear helmets when riding their bikes. Is it really that important?
Answer: Helmets are not cool to kids. My own daughters choose not to ride their bikes because I make them wear helmets. Like most kids, they think they are immortal and do not understand the dangers – that’s why it’s so important you protect them with helmets.
Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those wearing helmets. We see several children in the emergency room each week with head injuries. The difference between a brain injury and other accident-related injuries is often unrealized by those choosing to not wear a helmet.
If you break your arm, there’s a strong chance the bone can be set and it will heal without any lasting disability. With a head injury, the consequences are much more severe. A single head injury could leave the person handicapped for life. Bicycles and scooters, are just inherently dangerous. Their very design leaves the rider top-heavy and vulnerable to accidents. When they fall, they fall from a distance with speed, adding force to the blow.
Recent statistics show that nearly 700 people each year die from head injuries – and experts estimate 70-80 percent of those deaths could have been prevented with a helmet. A simple blow to the head can leave the victim dependent on others for day-to-day functions, like eating and dressing themselves, for the rest of their lives. Brain cells are the most sensitive to injury and while some improvement is possible, generally, a severe brain injury will not get much better. For more information on helmets safety, check out www.helmets.org.