34 13th Avenue NE, Suite B001 Minneapolis, MN 55413
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Each year, about 567,000 people are seen in emergency rooms with bike-related injuries; about 350,000 of those are children under age 15, and of those children approximately 130,000 sustain brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control Injury Prevention Unit, 88 percent of bike-related brain injuries could have been prevented by the use of helmets.
Statistically speaking, most bike-related head injuries occur to the front top of the head, around the forehead. Skateboard injuries tend to impact the back of the head. Snowboarding and ski accidents often result in tumbling, so winter sport helmets are designed for multiple impacts. Winter sport helmets also include insulation for cold temperatures. Helmets are designed with these variables in mind for optimum safety and protection.
Price shouldn't be a barrier for helmet use, as there are several affordable choices for helmets out there. But with so many helmets to pick from, how are parents to decide which ones provide the best protection for their children?
First, choose a style that your kids can live with. Children are much more inclined to use something that they don't feel "nerdy" wearing. If this means paying a few extra dollars for the "cool" helmet, please see it as money well spent. What would you rather do, spend an extra $5 on a helmet your child feels confident wearing, or a few thousand dollars on hospital bills when he is injured because he did want to wear a "nerdy" looking helmet?
Second, of the possible styles you choose, make sure that the helmets meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission's seal of approval. The CPSC is a federal government commission that establishes the minimal safety ratings for products in our country. Look on the box or inside the helmet to see if it carries a CPSC certification.
For discriminating consumers who want the best protection available, look also for SNELL certified helmets. William "Pete" Snell, a popular amateur sports car race driver, died of massive head injuries in 1956 when the auto racing helmet he was wearing failed to protect his head. The SNELL Memorial Foundation, founded in 1957 by a group of scientists, physicians, racing professionals and friends of Snell, offers the most authoritative helmet standards in the U.S., and arguably the highest standards in the world.
SNELL also offers specific certifications for the different types of helmets usage including bike, skateboard/inline skating, snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, mopeds, motorcycles and automobile racing. While all SNELL certified helmets will also carry the CPSC rating, not all CPSC approved helmets carry SNELL ratings.
Some parents ask if their children's bike helmets can be used for other activitis like skateboarding or snowboarding. This practice is not advisable. All helmets are not created equal for all activities. Helmet designs vary, not just for style, but also for function and to protect against targeted types of injuries.
- More kids ages five to 14 go to the hospital emergency departments with injuries related to biking than with any other sport.
- In Minnesota, approximately 13 percent of TBI-related injuries are caused by bicycle crashes in children ages five to 14.
- When worn properly, bike helmets can reduce the risk of brain injury by 88 percent.
- The average bicycle injury in Minnesota costs $49,000, including hospitalization, loss of productivity, and pain and suffering.
- According to a recent study, only 8 percent of Minnesotans wear a bicycle helmet consistently.