Hylton I Lightman MD DCH (SA) FAAP

As we enjoy Spring 2024 and begin the “slide” into the summer months, now is the time to prepare with safety should be at the top of every parent’s list. We will provide in this forum weekly tips to help our parents and their families to enjoy the best summer yet.

Kids of all ages are riding bicycles and skating to-and-from school and other places. They share in common the need to be smart about protecting the head.

Children, adolescents and young adults should wear helmets when riding equipment that moves them faster than their own feet, such as bicycles, scooters, skateboards and skates. By wearing a helmet, the helmet will absorb the impact of the crashes rather than the head or the brain. This reduces the risk of a serious brain injury and death. According to the John Hopkins School of Medicine, helmets can prevent up to 85% of head injuries.

Sadly, about 400,000 children under the age of 15 are treated annually in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries. An additional 300 are killed. Bicyclists ages 5-14 have among the highest injury rates of all riders.

A sports-related injury to the head is called a “concussion,” which can temporarily interfere with the way the brain works. Concussion symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability and difficulty with thinking skills, such as memory and attention. Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder of concussion symptoms that last longer than a normal recovery period. Bleeding inside the brain can also result. Head injuries take time to heal and require rest.

Fascinatingly, only about 15% of kids wear helmets. I was stunned to learn this.

What can we do to persuade more kids to wear helmets – and to encourage parents to make sure that more kids do this?

Make the trip to your local sports goods store and fit each child to the right helmet.

46% of kids complain that helmets feel uncomfortable on their heads. Many dislike the chin strap. Others complain that helmets make their heads sweat.

Honestly, fellow parents and grandparents. You have to explain to kids that wearing helmets is non-negotiable and what could happen, G-d forbid, if helmets are not work. Then you have to reenforce it. There’s no being wishy-washy about this issue. Reward good behavior here.

Any ideas here about how to make it “cool” to wear helmets? How about a photo campaign of our leaders wearing helmets?

As always, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

As always, daven.

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